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University of Michigan loses court decision over withholding pay details

FILE - This Aug. 13, 2020 file photo shows the University of Michigan football stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. A report says staff at the University of Michigan missed many opportunities to stop a doctor who committed sexual misconduct against hundreds of patients over decades at the school. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ANN ARBOR – A judge has ordered the University of Michigan to fill a public records request and release pay information for employees in an office dedicated to diversity and equal opportunity.

“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, Judge Elizabeth Gleicher said Monday.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy aggressively uses the public records law to get information from state and local governments and public schools. It sued the university after officials wouldn’t disclose all compensation details for employees in the Office of Institutional Equity for a two-year period.

The university cited privacy exceptions and other reasons for withholding details about overtime and bonuses. Gleicher at the Court of Claims said those defenses didn’t fit.

“We are happy the court upheld the rule of law and transparency in government by ruling in our favor,” said Steve Delie of the Midland-based Mackinac Center.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said officials were reviewing the decision.