§97-79. Offices and supplies; deputies with power to subpoena witnesses and to take testimony; meetings; hearings.
(a) The Commission shall be provided with adequate offices in which the records shall be kept and its official business transacted during regular business hours; it shall also be provided with necessary office furniture, stationery, and other supplies.
(b) The Commission may appoint deputies who shall have the same power as members of the Commission pursuant to G.S. 97-80 and the same power to take evidence, and enter orders, opinions, and awards based thereon as is possessed by the members of the Commission. Deputies appointed pursuant to this subsection shall not be considered hearing officers within the meaning of G.S. 126-5(d)(7). (Effective July 1, 2015.)
(c) The Commission or any member thereof may hold sessions at any place within the State as may be deemed necessary by the Commission.
(d) Hearings before the Commission shall be open to the public and shall be stenographically reported, and the Commission is authorized to contract for the reporting of such hearings. The Commission shall by regulation provide for the preparation of a record of the hearings and other proceedings. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, informal hearings conducted pursuant to the provisions of G.S. 97-18.1, whether by telephone or in person, shall not be open to the public nor stenographically reported unless the Commission orders otherwise.
(e) The Commission, or any member thereof, or any deputy is authorized by appropriate order, to make additional parties plaintiff or defendant in any proceeding pending before the Commission when it is made to appear that such new party is either a necessary party or a proper party to a final determination of the proceeding.
(f) The Commission shall create an ombudsman program to assist unrepresented claimants, employers, and other parties, to enable them to protect their rights under this Article. In addition to other duties assigned by the Commission, the ombudsman shall meet with, or otherwise provide information to, injured employees, investigate complaints, and communicate with employers' insurance carriers and physicians at the request of the claimant. Assistance provided under this subsection shall not include representing the claimant in a compensation hearing. (1929, c. 120, s. 53; 1931, c. 274, s. 10; 1951, c. 1059, s. 7; 1955, c. 1026, s. 11; 1971, c. 527, s. 2; c. 1147, s. 2; 1981 (Reg. Sess., 1982), c. 1243, s. 1; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 679, s. 5.2; 2013, c. 413 s. 60.)
Display Complete Text of Chapter 97. Workers' Compensation Act.