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Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Monday, December 3, 2012

Salary Posting Must Identify Public Employees by Name

According to a recent advisory opinion issued by the Illinois Public Access Counselor, public bodies must identify public employees by name (and not by job title) when posting salary and compensation information required by Section 7.3(a) of the Open Meetings Act. 2012 PAC 19808.

As we reported on October 6, 2011, P.A. 97-0609 amended the OMA (effective January 1, 2012) to require IMRF employers to post the total compensation package for the following public employees: 

·     each employee receiving a total compensation package that exceeds $75,000 a year within six days after approving its budget.

·     each employee with a total compensation package equal to or in excess of $150,000, at least six days before an IMRF employer approves the package.

Because the statute does not expressly require public bodies to identity each employee by name, some public bodies have complied with the new law by identifying individual employees by job title or position rather than by name.  According to this recent PAC opinion, however, failure to identify employees by name is a violation of the OMA. 

The PAC acknowledged that the statute is silent as to whether employees must be identified by name.  The PAC took the legislative "silence" to mean the statute was ambiguous.  The PAC then looked to the legislative debates surrounding a completely different bill that dealt with pension "spiking."  In the debate of the pension legislation, legislators discussed the need to detect pension abuses of individual public employees. That debate led the PAC to read a new requirement into this OMA amendment to require a public body to post the salaries of individual employees, by name.

The opinion also noted that a public body cannot refer a requester to its website when a requester asks for an electronic form of a record.

This opinion is non-binding and applies only to the public body found in violation.  However, it is likely the PAC would render the same opinion in similar circumstances.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink.


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