Appeals court: Cooper had power to fire ex-governor’s worker

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David Prickett (Photo: Office of State Human Resources)

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — A North Carolina appeals court says there was nothing unlawful about Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration firing an agency spokesman from when Republican predecessor Pat McCrory led state government.

A Court of Appeals panel reversed on Tuesday an administrative law judge’s decision that sided with David Prickett, who had worked at the Office of State Human Resources.

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Prickett could be fired at will, but McCrory altered Prickett’s status as his administration ended so Prickett could get job protections like most state workers. But Cooper quickly returned the position to exempt status, and Prickett was terminated.

Appeals judges agreed McCrory lacked authority to alter the position, and a now-repealed December 2016 law designed to help McCrory-era workers remain in state government didn’t apply to Prickett’s job.

Prickett still works within state government.