RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A judge has determined two workers in North Carolina's government human resources office were wrongly fired from their jobs in the first days of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's administration.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports rulings by an administrative law judge since last month mean the state may have to pay thousands of dollars to the workers and offer their old jobs back. Agency managers Veronica Wright and Steve Grant were hired under Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's administration.

The firings occurred as Cooper began removing some workers that McCrory's administration hired and were deemed exempt from job projections most state workers hold. The General Assembly last December passed a law significantly reducing the number of "exempt" positions. Cooper sued over the law. That case is pending.