Saturday, September 18, 2021
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University of Michigan Loses Freedom of Information Lawsuit

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The University of Michigan (UM) has lost a lawsuit filed against it by the Mackinac Center of Public Policy after the university refused to comply with a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request. 

Earlier this year, the Mackinac Center asked UM to provide the names and complete salary details of all employees at the Office of Institutional Equity from 2019 to 2020. The request was made to audit the university’s personnel budget after the school revealed it was instituting a pay freeze.

While the school did submit data, it withheld overtime and bonus information, arguing that the law does not require them to disclose more than base salaries. After several failed attempts to obtain the records, Mackinac Center filed the lawsuit.

Judge Elizabeth Gleicher ruled in favor of the research center to give the public full access to the documents.

“Exposure of the university’s salary, bonus and overtime pay decisions allows the taxpayers to learn how the people’s money was spent, fulfilling the policy objectives of Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act,” said Gleicher.

Full Transparency

In a press release, the center stated that the Michigan Court of Claims has now ordered the university to disclose all employee salary information — the original request from Mackinac earlier this year that UM did not meet. 

“Michigan has a freedom of information law to give people the ability to have oversight of the public entities that exist to serve them,” said Steve Delie, the policy lead on open government and transparency for Mackinac Center. 

“It was surprising that the University of Michigan tried to deny the public the ability to get the full salary information of its employees, and we are happy the court upheld the rule of law and transparency in government by ruling in our favor,” he added.

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