FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 24, 2023
RALEIGH, NC—US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rules that undercover investigations and whistleblowing are considered newsgathering activities and as such are constitutionally protected by the First Amendment.
In the spirit of Upton Sinclair, Government Accountability Project, through its Food Integrity Campaign (FIC), endeavors to shine a light on some of the darkest corners of society. This ruling validates our critical role in representing truth in agriculture and our efforts to create a fair and just food system.
Government Accountability Project and fellow public interest groups filed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s “Anti-Sunshine” law, which sought to restrict conducting and publicizing investigations of illegal and unethical workplace activities. While similar to Ag Gag laws, this North Carolina law extended beyond agricultural facilities to penalize undercover investigations of nursing homes and daycare facilities.
Of particular import in the Fourth Circuit, the opinion holds that Food Lion—a case from 25 years ago against ABC for undercover reporting, which has been used to say undercover investigations are not protected in the Fourth Circuit—is effectively a dead letter.
“We are delighted by this Fourth Circuit victory. In these David vs. Goliath scenarios where it is one person’s word against the messaging machine of corporate giants, undercover video often becomes the arbiter of truth. This ruling serves the public’s interest and all the brave individuals who challenge unethical activity in the workplace,” said Government Accountability Project Food Integrity Campaign Director Amanda Hitt.
For additional comments or to speak to FIC food whistleblower clients or staff experts, please contact:
Amanda Hitt, Food Integrity Campaign Director
The Food Integrity Campaign is a program of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, the organization’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.
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