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Cole’s dealership wants answers about worker privacy breach

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Bluefield auto dealership owned by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Cole has asked Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office to investigate the state Division of Labor’s recent release of the names, salaries and social security numbers of more than 200 employees who work for Cole.

In late October, the agency released the employees’ confidential information, in response to a Gazette-Mail request for a story about wage complaints filed against businesses owned by candidates for governor in West Virginia. The labor office also released copies of checks from Cole’s dealership that included bank account numbers and routing information.

“It’s incredible that we have a state agency that would act recklessly,” said Ralph Vines, general manager of Cole Automotive Group. “I can’t imagine how something like that could happen.”

State officials have apologized to Cole, said Diane Holley-Brown, a spokeswoman for the Tomblin administration. The Division of Labor sent letters to Cole’s employees, notifying them about the release of their personal information. The state will provide free credit monitoring to all affected employees for a year.

The labor division also has reported the incident to the State Privacy Office and Bureau of Risk and Insurance Management

“The state considers this a very serious issue…

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