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Public Access Counselor Clarifies That FOIA Protects Employee Information When a Request Targets a Bargaining Unit

Jul 19, 2022

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On June 30, 2022, the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) took the rare step of issuing a binding opinion that upheld a denial of a FOIA request for certain information about public employees. Interpreting a provision in the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (IPLRA) that protects “any information personally identifying membership or membership status in a labor organization,” the PAC found in Public Access Opinion 2022-09 that the City of Berwyn did not violate FOIA by denying a request for the names, job titles, and other information of all employees covered by a specific collective bargaining agreement. Because the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA) includes language identical to what the PAC relied on, the decision also has implications for school districts and colleges.