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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

FOIA Bill Would Require Publication of Severance Agreements

Last week, the Illinois House introduced a bill that would amend the Freedom of Information Act to address severance agreements with employees accused of sexual harassment or sexual discrimination. If enacted, HB 4242 would require units of local government to publish notice within 72 hours of making any payment to an employee under a severance agreement. The notice would have to be published on the local government's website and in a newspaper with the largest circulation in the local government for a period of 7 days and would have to include the following information:

(1)  the name of the person receiving the payment;
(2)  the amount of the payment; and
(3) the fact that the person receiving the payment has been accused of sexual harassment or sexual discrimination, as the case may be. 

Interestingly, although FOIA applies to all public bodies, including the state government and its agencies, this proposed FOIA amendment only applies to units of local government and does not cover state agencies. There was a "companion" bill introduced on the same day, however, that would prohibit use of state funds for payment to any state employee "involved with or relevant to allegations and investigations of sexual harassment by a member of the general assembly." HB 4243. If that bill passes, it would seem to prevent not only a severance payout to a state official but also prevent a payout to an alleged victim.

We will keep you posted on the proposed legislation and let you know if it goes anywhere.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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