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SEPTA v. Winberg

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  1. Freedom of Information

Case Number: 926 C.D. 2021

Court: Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

Clients: Michaela Winberg, WHYY

Notice of Appearance Filed: Oct. 20, 2021

Background: In March 2021, Michaela Winberg, a reporter for Philadelphia’s BillyPenn/WHYY, filed a public records request with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) under Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law seeking several documents, including reports of sexual harassment or assault at the transit agency. SEPTA is the nation’s fifth-largest public transit agency and the primary public transit provider in the greater Philadelphia region.

SEPTA provided a spreadsheet of settlements for employees who had alleged sexual harassment or assault but denied the remaining requests. Winberg appealed to Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records, which ruled that certain reports should be released.

In August, SEPTA filed a petition for review in the Commonwealth Court. Paula Knudsen Burke, the Reporters Committee’s Local Legal Initiative attorney in Pennsylvania, agreed to represent Winberg and WHYY in the matter and entered her appearance in the case in October.

Update: After participating in the Commonwealth Court’s mediation program, SEPTA agreed to provide relevant records to WHYY. SEPTA discontinued its appeal on Jan. 18, 2022. 


2021-07-26: Office of Open Records’ final determination

2021-08-24: Agency’s petition for review

2021-10-20: Entry of appearance