95-197. Withholding hazardous substance trade secret information.

(a) An employer who believes that all or any part of the information required under G.S. 95-191, 95-192, 95-194(b) or 95-194(d) is a hazardous substance trade secret may withhold the information, provided that (i) hazard information on chemicals the identity of which is claimed as a hazardous substance trade secret is provided to the Fire Chief who shall hold it in confidence and (ii) the employer claims that the information is a hazardous substance trade secret.

(b) Any person in North Carolina may request in writing that the Commissioner of Labor review in camera an employer's hazardous substance trade secret claim. If the Commissioner of Labor finds that the claim is other than completely valid, this finding shall be appealable under subsection (d) of this section. If the Commissioner of Labor finds that the claim is valid, he shall then determine whether the nonconfidential information is sufficient for the Fire Chief to fulfill the responsibilities of his office. If the Commissioner of Labor finds that the information is not sufficient, he shall direct the employer to supplement the information with such other information as will provide the Fire Chief with sufficient information to fulfill the responsibilities of his office, but this finding shall be appealable under subsection (d) of this section.

(c) The Commissioner of Labor and the Fire Chief shall protect from disclosure any or all information coming into either or both of their possession when such information is marked by the employer as confidential, and they shall return all information so marked to the employer at the conclusion of their determination by the Commissioner of Labor. Any person who has access to any hazardous substance trade secret solely pursuant to this section and who discloses it knowing it to be a hazardous substance trade secret to any person not authorized to receive it shall be guilty of a Class I felony, and if knowingly or negligently disclosed to any person not authorized, shall be subject to civil action for damages and injunction by the owner of the hazardous substance trade secret, including, without limitation, actions under Article 24 of Chapter 66 of the General Statutes.

(d) The employer, Fire Chief, or person making the original request who is an aggrieved party shall have 30 days after receipt of notification by the Commissioner of his findings under subsection (b) to request an administrative hearing on the determination. Any such hearing shall be held in a manner similar to that provided for in G.S. Chapter 150B, Article 3 and the decision upon the request of any aggrieved party shall be subject to the judicial review provided for by G.S. Chapter 150B, Article 4, provided that these administrative and judicial hearings shall be conducted in camera to assure the confidentiality of the information being reviewed. (1985, c. 775, s. 1; 1987, c. 827, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 1290; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)