After taking office, Governor Cooper filed a lawsuit against the NC General Assembly and Chairman Allen and Commissioner Stith of the NC Industrial Commission challenging on constitutional grounds to changes to NCIC appointment provisions. One provision the legislature changed was to remove from the incoming governor, Governor Cooper, the authority to appoint the Chair and the Vice Chair of the Commission for the entirety of his first term. In addition, the legislature granted the current vice-chair (Commissioner Stith) the exclusive privilege of a nine-year term to serve as a full commissioner.
In the waning days of his term, Governor McCrory appointed Charlton Allen as Chair of the Industrial Commission. He also named Yolanda Stith (who is the spouse of Governor McCrory’s chief of staff) as the vice-chair, and given the legislative changes, her term, which was supposed to terminate on April 30, 2019, was extended for an additional six years, thereby giving her a nearly nine-year term.
Superior Court Judge Henry W. Hight, Jr. ruled on December 3, 2018 that these legislative amendments were unconstitutional as a violation of the separation of powers.
It is our understanding, as a result of this court decision, Governor Cooper has gone ahead and named Philip A. Baddour as the new Chair and Myra L. Griffin as the new Vice-Chair. Commissioner Stith’s term will expire on April 30, 2019.