Clay County has the right to appeal the recent Circuit Court decision related to the Missouri State Auditor's authority to access highly confidential records about Clay County’s employees. However, the court's deadline to turn over the documents in question does not allow for that opportunity, so as allowed by Missouri law, Clay County has simply asked the Court to extend that deadline while Clay County considers an appeal.
The Missouri Supreme Court has previously ruled that employees have a "fundamental right" to privacy in their employment records, and Clay County continues to prioritize protecting our hard working staff's privacy by not unnecessarily allowing their performance reviews and other documents and information to become part of the public record. A "fundamental right" in a legal context has significance, meaning the right to privacy in employment records is treated on the same level as the right to vote, speak out about the government, own a firearm, and other similarly protected actions.
With this in mind, Clay County has filed a motion to amend the Judge's order. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday where legal counsel will seek appropriate time to consider an appeal on this vitally important issue.
Clay County wants to emphasize the individuals targeted in the State Auditor's subpoena are not parties in the lawsuit and therefore have no ability to protect their own interests. The requests from the Auditor have been broad and include employees from across various government offices, some of which have already been audited and received a strong rating in the final report.
Clay County has never said the documents could never be turned over. It simply believes that the Auditor has a burden of showing why a specific employee’s records are relevant to her audit in light of the confidential nature of those records, and to have a third party make the final call in cases of doubt. Clay County lacks confidence that the Auditor will treat those records with the confidentiality they deserve, based on how she has handled what was supposed to be confidential information in other audits.
Clay County prides itself on the hiring of high-quality staff and administrators, and potential job candidates should not have to worry that their employment records could be made public without proper justification. Further, current and past employees should not have to endure potential harm to future employment prospects based on how the Auditor may choose to disclose confidential information in their personnel records. Politics aside, we owe it to our employees to protect their rights in this important matter.