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Confidentiality clauses in personnel settlement agreements for public workers

Published: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 10:05 a.m. CDT

Recently, the House Government Oversight Committee passed House File 2462 on a party-line vote of 5 to 4.

The bill will ban the use of confidentiality/nondisclosure clauses in personnel settlement agreements for public workers.

In addition, the bill makes public the reason and rationale for an employee dismissal, demotion or resignation in lieu of a termination.

Under current law, only certain personal information (such as name, dates the individual was employed, the fact that the employee was discharged) is allowed to be public information.

The bill seeks to remedy a practice in state government that has been used during, at the least, the last two governor’s administrations. The Des Moines Register ran an investigative piece on March 16, uncovering these confidential settlement agreements entered into by former state workers and staff of Gov. Terry Branstad.

It was later uncovered the Culver administration was entering into these same types of confidential agreements, as well. Last week, Gov. Branstad issued an executive order banning the confidentiality clauses for future agreements and also made public all settlement agreements signed during his administration.

House File 2462 codifies Gov. Branstad’s executive order, ensuring that the practice of writing nondisclosure clauses into settlement agreements will not be practiced in future administrations.

In addition, it will allow the state to disclose why certain disciplinary actions were taken against a state employee, potentially helping another employer from making a bad hire. The bill will advance to the House floor for full consideration.

On another note, currently scheduled legislative forums have come to an end for this session.

I appreciate each of you who took your time out of your busy schedule to attend the events and share your thoughts.

Please continue to contact me by phone or email. I look forward to seeing you in the district at future scheduled events throughout the summer and fall. It remains a pleasure to represent the best district in the state of Iowa.

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