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