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Naming terminated public employees: public information or not?


The following is provided thanks to the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association:

Question: A local agency recently terminated several employees at a public meeting without disclosing their names. The board voted to terminate using employee numbers only and cited concerns about employee privacy to support its position. Isn’t the agency required to release the names of the employees being terminated?

Answer: Yes. The public comment provision and minutes-keeping requirements of the Sunshine Act require disclosure and recording of the names, and the Right to Know Law makes the employees’ name, salary, length of service and the agency’s final action regarding employee termination a public record.

Section 710.1 of the Sunshine Act requires a reasonable opportunity for meaningful public comment at each public meeting and prior to all official action. Without the names of employees being terminated, the public has no opportunity to give meaningful comment prior to the vote, and the plain terms of the Sunshine Act’s public comment provision are ignored. Furthermore, section 706 of the Sunshine Act requires meeting minutes to contain the substance of all official action. If the meeting minutes do not contain the names of the employees and the termination action taken by the board, they do not provide an accurate record of the meeting, raising Sunshine Act compliance issues.

Further, section 708(b)(6)(ii) of the Right to Know Law makes certain employee information public record, including name, salary, and length of service. These records would include the employees’ names, as well as beginning and termination dates. Moreover, section 708(b)(7)(viii) expressly makes the agency’s final action on employee discharge and demotion a public record. 



Last Updated on Saturday, 14 March 2015 12:56

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