Severance Agreements Subject to FOIA Effective June 1, 2016Author: Ruth A. Schlossberg
April 29, 2016
The Illinois Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) has explicitly required the disclosure of settlement agreements since 2010. Public Act 99-478, passed last fall, expands this explicit duty to produce settlement agreements to also include severance agreements. Effective June 1, 2016, Section 2.20 of FOIA provides that “All settlement and severance agreements entered into by or on behalf of a public body are public records subject to inspection and copying by the public, provided that information exempt from disclosure under Section 7 of this Act may be redacted.”
“Severance Agreements” are defined in Section 2 of FOIA as “a mutual agreement between any public body and its employee for the employee’s resignation in exchange for payment by the public body.”
While there is no duty to disclose otherwise exempt information — such as home addresses or social security numbers — public bodies should assume that any details associated with any payments from or benefits granted by the public body to a departing employee are details that should be disclosed in response to any FOIA request.