Public Access Opinion 18-005

Public Body Must Disclose Wage and Salary Information of Public Employees

Freedom of Information Act - FOIA
Case: Public Access Opinion 18-005
Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The City of Nashville (City) violated FOIA when it refused to disclose the names, titles, and wages and salaries paid to its employees for 2016 and 2017 to a FOIA requester. The City denied the FOIA request on the basis that the wage and salary information constituted a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy under section 7(1)(c) of FOIA. Consistent with other recent PAC opinions, the PAC found that the County’s denial of the request was improper for two reasons. First, Section 2.5 of FOIA states that records relating to the use of public funds are public records subject to inspection and copying by the public funds, the salary and wage information of City employees are paid out of the City’s public funds. Second, the disclosure of the information did not qualify as an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under Section 7(1)(c) because (1) the public has a significant interest in how much public employees are paid for the performance of their public duties, (2) public employees do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the amount of compensation they receive, and (3) there was no other readily available means for the requester to obtain the wage and salary information. The PAC ordered the City to provide the records responsive to the FOIA request.

This opinion is binding only to the parties involved and may be appealed pursuant to State law.