Calhoun refuses to release settlement amount in employment discrimination case

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Aug. 28, 2013 at 3:28 a.m.
Updated Aug. 29, 2013 at 3:29 a.m.

Calhoun County released a copy of a settlement agreement for an employment discrimination case it was embroiled in earlier this year.

But the settlement amount was redacted and the document did not include the signatures of the parties involved, which does not fulfill the Victoria Advocate's Texas Public Information Act request.

Port Lavaca resident Amanda Guillen sued the county and Precinct 2 Commissioner Vern Lyssy in federal court three years ago.

She claimed Lyssy fired her after she complained about a camera set up in the office they shared. She said in court documents the camera might have filmed her undressing, but no such recording was ever found.

The parties settled the case before Magistrate Judge Nancy K. Johnson, of Houston, in June.

The Advocate filed a complaint with the Texas Attorney General's office July 26 after the county refused to release the case's settlement agreement. First Assistant District Attorney Shannon Salyer said the county did not possess a copy of the agreement; its insurance company, Hiscox, did.

Then, he feared releasing the settlement agreement would breach a confidentiality clause, but Guillen's attorney John Melton, of Austin, did not request confidentiality.

Assistant Attorney General Karen Hattaway assigned the Advocate's complaint an ID number. So far, she has sent three rulings involving the city of Harlingen, the La Joya Independent School District and Harrison County that would support making settlement agreements to which a governmental body is a party a public record.



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