Monday, October 5, 2015

FOIA Amended to Address Severance Agreements

Last week, the Illinois General Assembly enacted P.A. 99-0478 amending the Illinois Freedom of Information Act to specifically address severance agreements. Section 2.20 of FOIA previously provided that settlement agreements are public records subject to release under FOIA (except that exempt information within the agreement can be redacted). That section has been amended to treat severance agreements the same as settlement agreements.  The Act also modified the definitions section of FOIA to include a definition of severance agreements as follows: "a mutual agreement between any public body and its employee for the employee's resignation in exchange for payment by the public body."

The law does not take effect until June 1, 2016. However, based on recent decisions by the PAC office, the PAC may already be interpreting "settlement agreement" to include severance agreements.

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