Many school districts and other public agencies are deting whether they should make a transaction agreement “confidential,” despite laws that require public government transparency and the availability of documents through the California Public Records Act. In order to strike a balance between the concepts of privacy and open government, a California appeals court ruled that a confidentiality clause was allowed in a transaction agreement between a public employee and the public body, although a public body may not be able to completely conceal the terms of the agreement. To Sanchez v. County of San Bernardino (2009) __ Cal. Rptr.3d __ (2009 WL 2414926), plaintiff Elizabeth Sanchez, while she was a county employee, negotiated an employment contract with the sheriff`s union. A few months after the negotiations, she was romantically engaged to the union president. When her boss discovered the relationship, she was asked to resign. The Landkreis and the applicant entered into a settlement agreement that separated their employment and contained the following confidentiality provision: I must also mention that, in the absence of a specific exception, agencies often attempt to withhold records of public disclosure by availing themselves of the “catch-all” exception of the law contained in the Government Code § 6255 (a). For more information about this comparison and CPRA questions, please contact the authors of this legal disclaimer, which can be found right in the firm`s ARC: Advanced Records Center, or to your LAWYER BB&K. Feel free to share this Legal Alert or register by clicking here. Follow us on Facebook @BestBestKrieger and @BBKlaw on Twitter. Disclaimer: BB&K Legal Alerts is not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may have an impact on the themes it contains.
Seek legal advice before acting or relying on the information contained in this press release. All qualified records must be disclosed unless a particular provision of the law or other law exempts them from disclosure. Settlement agreements in which one of the parties is a public body are generally not exempt from publicity under the law. See Register Division of Freedom Newspapers v. County of Orange, 158 Cal. App.3d 893, 909 (1984) (documents relating to the agreement with district inmates who are subject to disclosure, with the exception of crime reports and summary notes from county risk management staff); Copley Press, Inc. v. Superior Court, 63 Cal. App. 4th 367, 376 (1998) (comparison between the school district and the student, which must be removed from the trial under similar court rules); Sanchez v. County of San Bernardino, 176 Cal. App.
4th 516, 526 (2009) (confidentiality clause in a transaction agreement with the County allegedly violated the Public Records Act). The Tribunal found that the confidentiality clause is not contrary to public policy, since it expressly excludes all disclosures “authorized by law”. The Landkreis also defended its disclosure to the media arguing that it was protected by the First Constitutional Amendment. . . .