The recent appointment of Charlton L. Allen to serve as commissioner of the North Carolina Industrial Commission has raised concern and sparked ire in among workers’ advocates, following the release of troubling evidence that Allen’s views are prejudice against workers and also minorities.
Gov. Pat McCrory held firm to his choice to appoint Allen, an attorney from Mooresville who previously served as the Republican party chairman for Iredell County, even after red flags were raised. There is concern that someone with such reportedly dubious views on race and equality will not fairly weigh the rights of all workers who appeal to the commission seeking review of their request for benefits.
Our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers recognize the commission, a quasi-judicial authority, has historically been split down the middle, with three pro-business commissioners and three pro-workers. This approach has worked well to maintain balance and fairness. However, some have expressed concern that Allen’s views go beyond the liberal/conservative divide.
Those expressing discontent pointed to the following:
- Allen’s founding of a conservative campus publication while a student in the 1990s at the University of North Carolina. That publication, the Carolina Review, derided Muslims, immigrants, homosexuals and protested the construction of the school’s Black Cultural Center, arguing it would “lead to resegregation.”
- He and his college friends would, under cover of darkness, post anti-gay signs around campus, with messages like, “God Created Adam and Eve – Not Adam and Steve.” They also placed inflatable sheep at the headquarters of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, equating homosexuality with bestiality.
- Some issues of the Carolina Review featured Klansmen cartoons. One printed a black man with a bull’s eye.
- In 1991, campus Republicans, led by Allen, dressed in traditional Arab clothing, raided a Persian Gulf War peace protest and launched water balloons at protesters.
- One issue of the publication featured a depiction of a Jewish student running for student body president. He was shown with horns and a pitchfork, with the article stating, “The difference is simple. (The candidate) is Jewish).”
None of this lessened the support granted to Allen for the commissioner post by McCrory or several other Republican lawmakers, who have called him “highly qualified.” Supporters held firm to this notion, even after Allen declined to clear the air following the emergence of this information. House Democrats, meanwhile, have vigorously opposed his nomination, questioning how someone holding these views could fairly judge worker injury cases.
During the last legislative session, lawmakers altered policy so that hearing officers for the commission, responsible for ruling on workers’ compensation claims before they are appealed to the commission, are now beholden to the governor, where they were once independent.
In an editorial for the Charlotte News & Observer, guest columnist Eladio Bobadilla noted this latter move will result in officers who, rather than focusing on just outcomes, will “have reason to worry about how their decision impact their own career prospects.”
This is deeply concerning, indeed.
The bottom line is injured workers seeking benefits will now more than ever need the aid of an experienced legal advocate.
If you have been injured at work in Charlotte, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Industrial Commission losses will hurt workers, Aug. 12, 2014, By Eladio Bobadilla, Charlotte News & O rver
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