95-242. Complaint; investigation; conciliation.

(a) An employee allegedly aggrieved by a violation of G.S. 95-241 may file a written complaint with the Commissioner of Labor alleging the violation. The complaint shall be filed within 180 days of the alleged violation. Within 20 days following receipt of the complaint, the Commissioner shall forward a copy of the complaint to the person alleged to have committed the violation and shall initiate an investigation. If the Commissioner determines after the investigation that there is not reasonable cause to believe that the allegation is true, the Commissioner shall dismiss the complaint, promptly notify the employee and the respondent, and issue a right-to-sue letter to the employee that will enable the employee to bring a civil action pursuant to G.S. 95-243. If the Commissioner determines after investigation that there is reasonable cause to believe that the allegation is true, the Commissioner shall attempt to eliminate the alleged violation by informal methods which may consist of conference, conciliation, and persuasion. The Commissioner shall make a determination as soon as possible and, in any event, not later than 90 days after the filing of the complaint.

(b) If the Commissioner is unable to resolve the alleged violation through the informal methods, the Commissioner shall notify the parties in writing that conciliation efforts have failed. The Commissioner shall then either file a civil action on behalf of the employee pursuant to G.S. 95-243 or issue a right-to-sue letter to the employee enabling the employee to bring a civil action pursuant to G.S. 95-243.

(b1) The Commissioner may reopen an investigation under this Article for good cause shown within 30 days of receipt of the right-to-sue letter. If an investigation is reopened pursuant to this section, the 90-day time limit set forth in G.S. 95-243(b) shall not commence until the new investigation is complete and either a new right-to-sue letter is issued or the Commissioner notifies the parties in writing that conciliation efforts have failed.

(c) An employee may make a written request to the Commissioner for a right-to-sue letter after 90 days following the filing of a complaint if the Commissioner has not issued a notice of conciliation failure and has not commenced an action pursuant to G.S. 95-242.

(d) Nothing said or done during the use of the informal methods described in subsection (a) of this section may be made public by the Commissioner or used as evidence in a subsequent proceeding under this Article without the written consent of the persons concerned.

(e) The Commissioner's files and the Commissioner's other records relating to investigations and enforcement proceedings pursuant to this Article shall not be subject to inspection and examination as authorized by G.S. 132-6 while such investigations and proceedings are open or pending in the trial court division.

(f) In making inspections and investigations under this Article, the Commissioner or his duly authorized agents may, in addition to exercising the authority granted in G.S. 95-4, issue subpoenas to require the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of evidence under oath. Witnesses shall be reimbursed for all travel and other necessary expenses which shall be claimed and paid in accordance with the prevailing travel reimbursement requirements of the State. In the case of failure or refusal of any person to obey a subpoena under this Article, the district court judge or superior court judge of the county in which the inspection or investigation is conducted shall, upon the application of the Commissioner, have jurisdiction to issue an order requiring compliance. (1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 1021, s. 1; 1993, c. 423, s. 2; 2011-366, ss. 9, 10.)