TO STRENGTHEN CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT BY INCREASING ACCESSIBILITY TO PUBLIC PERSONNEL HIRING, FIRING, PERFORMANCE RECORDS, AND OTHER GOVERNMENTAL RECORDS AND MEETINGS.
Amends the following statutes to provide that a general description of the reasons for each employee’s promotion, demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or other change in position classification with the applicable entity will be subject to inspection (expands information currently subject to inspection): GS 126-23(a) (state employee personnel records); GS 115C-320(a) (local boards of education); GS 115D-28(a) (community college employee personnel records); GS 122C-158(b) (employees under the Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Act); GS 153A-98(b) (county employees); GS 160A-168(b) (city employees); and GS 162A-6.1(b) (water and sewer authority employees). Adds that the performance of the employee, to the extent that the entity has the performance records in possession, will also be subject to inspection.
Deletes provisions of GS 143-318.16B (assessments and awards of attorneys’ fees) and replaces them with the following new provisions. Allows a party who substantially prevails in seeking compliance with the open meetings law by public bodies to recover reasonable attorneys’ fees if the fees are attributable to that noncompliance, in any action brought under Article 33C of GS Chapter 143, as specified. Prohibits the court from assessing attorneys’ fees against the governmental body or unit if the court finds that the body or unit acted in reasonable reliance on: (1) a judgment or order of a court applicable to the body or unit; (2) the published opinion of an appellate court, an order of the NC Business Court, or a final order of the Trial Division of the General Court of Justice; or (3) a written opinion, decision, or letter of the Attorney General. Details additional guidelines for the payment of fees, and specifies that a court may not assess attorneys’ fees against a public hospital, as defined, if the court finds that the action was brought by or on behalf of a competing health care provider for obtaining information used to gain a competitive advantage.
Effective December 1, 2011.