AG Opinions: County library employees, evaluation records

Monday, June 19, 2017 9:00 am

Mark Whitmore
AAC Chief Counsel

AG OPINION NO. 2016-125

The Attorney General determined that employees of a particular county library are “county employees” for the purposes of the Arkansas Public Employee Retirement System (APERS). Because employees of the county library were subject to the control of the county in terms of remuneration, the library employees were entitled to APERS contributions and other benefits of county employees under Ark. Code Ann. § 24-4-101. In this determination, the AG emphasized that the APERS board of trustees would have the final power to decide the question in a case of doubt. Under Ark. Code Ann. § 24-4-101(14)(A), county employees are “all employees whose compensations are payable, either directly or indirectly, by county participating public employers.” Further, “a ‘county’ may be any county in Arkansas, ‘includ[ing] all ... boards ... that are duly constituted agencies of the county.’” Thus, in this instance, the county library board fell within this definition, making its employees eligible for APERS contribution by the county.

AG OPINION NO. 2017-004

The AG considered the following question: Does the county judge, or instead, the quorum court, have the authority to assign proposed ordinances among existing committees? The AG determined that this power lies exclusively with the quorum court. Under both Ark. Const. amend. 55, § 1(a) and Ark. Code Ann. § 14-14-801(a), the quorum court is designated as the county’s local legislative authority. The county judge may appoint the members of quorum court committees and limit the size of those committees; however, “assigning proposed ordinances to specific existing committees falls within the quorum-court’s managerial and procedural authorities, if not its local legislative powers.” Furthermore, quorum courts are not prohibited from assigning ordinances to committees.

AG OPINION NO. 2016-139

The AG made clear that the “parking lot exception” under Act 1078 of 2015 includes county parking lots. This exception allows concealed-carry licensees to leave his or her concealed handgun in his or her “locked and unattended motor vehicle” in a “publicly owned and maintained parking lot.” This act amended statutes relating to both the concealed handgun licensing law and criminal weapons statutes to expand exceptions. Under this act, a concealed-carry licensee may leave his or her concealed handgun hidden from view in a locked and unattended vehicle in a publically owned parking lot — including county-owned parking lots — “without fear of either prosecution or license revocation.”

AG OPINION NO. 2016-137

While evaluating whether an employee’s employee evaluation records were properly disclosed in response to a request under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Attorney General determined that the records were properly disclosed. Under FOIA, a document is subject to disclosure if the request is directed to an entity subject to the act, the requested document is a public record, and no exceptions allow the document to be withheld. Two exceptions may prevent a request from being granted — personnel records and employee evaluation or job performance records. In this case, the records fell within the employee evaluation records exception. This exception refers to any records created by or at the behest of the employer in order to evaluate the employee and that detail the employee’s performance on the job. Additionally, employee evaluation or job performance records may only be released if all of the following elements are met: (1) the employee was suspended or terminated, (2) there has been a final administrative resolution of the proceeding, (3) these records formed a basis for the decision in this proceeding, and (4) the public has a compelling interest in the disclosure of the records in question. The primary purpose of this exception is to preserve the confidentiality of the formal job-evaluation process to promote honest exchanges in employment relationships. Because these conditions were satisfied in this case, an employee’s “Notice of Disciplinary Action Form” and accompanying memorandum were properly released.

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