(12/19/2002)
Employees of a state-owned psychiatric hospital in Huntington will be allowed to give the media non-confidential information under a settlement approved by a federal judge.

Seven employees of Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to challenge a state policy that prohibited them from talking to reporters without an administrator's permission.

The settlement calls for the policy to be rewritten. Employees will not face retaliation for providing the media with non confidential information as long as they do not indicate they are speaking on behalf of the hospital, according to Andrew Schneider, the executive director for the A-C-L-U in West Virginia.

US District Judge Chuck Chambers approved the settlement.

John Law, director of communications for DHHR, says the agency asks all its employees to refer media inquiries to an administrator.


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