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Appeals court reverse PSC ruling to force companies to disclose salaries

Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy should not have to publicly disclose their salary and benefits packages as part of their rate case request, the First District Court of Appeals ruled today. Download DCA Ruling in Compensation

FPL and Progress included the cost of employee salaries and benefits as part of its rate increase request before the Public Service Commission. The PSC then asked them to provide the name, title, base salary, overtime bonuses and stock awards given to every employee who earned more than $165,000 a year in an attempt to determine whether the companies were over-compensating certain employees. For FPL, the cost to the company was about $4.4 billion for 4,400 employees.

The companies refused to provide the information in a way that allowed the PSC to determine how much individual employees were making in salaries and bonuses. They argued that revealing the information would invade employee privacy rights and release sensitive business information.

The court said that while “we agree there is some indication that employee compensation information may not be confidential proprietary business information” as intended by the legislature, there are other areas that should be considered confidential.

The court agreed that disclosing the information “would imparit their competitive interests.” It cited the testimony by the companies that revealin gthe information would encourage other compenis to stela their employees, to provoke employee infighting and lead to higher wages, and therefore higher rates for customers.

“The commission clearly erred by refusing the consider whether the compensation information fell within any of the other listed examples of propriertary confidential business information,”  the court concluded.

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