Connecticut state agencies made "many" six-figure payments to departing employees in order to avoid lawsuits or to keep the employee quiet about their work for the state.
State auditors revealed the payments in their 2016 report to the General Assembly. The auditors found that these payments were not part of any legal settlement made by the Attorney General’s office, nor were they authorized by the governor as required by state statute.
State auditor, John Geragosian, said individuals who might have damaging information about a state agency "should not be denied the right to talk about it."
According to Connecticut General Statute Sec. 3-7, only the attorney general or the governor can authorize the payment of a “disputed claim against the state or any department or agency.”
The records of any such compromise are also required to be “open to public inspection.”
The auditors recommended the state require all non-disparagement agreements or payments to avoid litigation follow the laws as outlined in state statute. “Requiring adherence to these statutory provisions will assist in protecting the state’s interests by providing independent scrutiny of these payments and consistency among state agencies.”
Geragosian said "there should at least be a third party" to review the claims and payouts.
The non-disparagement agreements also undermine the rights of the employee to act as a federal or state whistleblower. The report indicates that “many” of the payments exceeded $100,000.
The attorney general's office declined to comment on the matter.