Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Facing lawsuit, Rutgers coughs up its separation agreement with former Athletic Director.

In his August 2, 2018 article, "Why did Rutgers pay fired AD Julie Hermann $500K more than she was owed?" Star-Ledger reporter Keith Sargeant wrote about Rutgers' refusal to provide him with the university's separation agreement with former Athletic Director Julie Hermann.  After reading the article, I had my non-profit submit an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for the separation agreement and then sued when Rutgers denied the request.

On September 10, 2018, Rutgers denied my non-profit access to Hermann's separation agreement for the same reason that Sargeant's request was denied: The agreement is "a personnel record, and not subject to disclosure under OPRA," Rutgers claimed.  With CJ Griffin of Hackensack as its attorney, my non-profit filed a lawsuit against Rutgers and its records custodian on September 24, 2018.  The lawsuit and exhibits are here, the brief is here and Griffin's certification and exhibits are here.

After being served with the lawsuit, Rutgers decided to disclose the separation agreement and pay Griffin $6,000 in attorney fees.  The separation agreement is on-line here.  It called for Hermann to receive payments of $175,000 as "retention compensation," $105,000 as "incentive compensation," $31,000 as an "automobile stipend," $125,000 as a "lump sum payment" and $25,000 as "attorney fees."  The agreement also called for Hermann to keep "the existence and terms of [the separation] agreement . . . strictly confidential" and provided that Hermann would have to pay Rutgers $50,000 in liquidated damages if she breached this confidentiality provision.

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