In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Paul Gough,




against Docket #FIC 88-104


Chairman, Wallingford Public Utilities Commission and Wallingford Public Utilities Commission,


Respondents August 10, 1988


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 12, 1988, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.


After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found:


1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.


2. By letter dated February 22, 1988, the complainant requested that the respondent chairman provide him with lists of absences prepared by the respondents' staff for discussion under "Absences & Disbursements" on the respondent commission's agenda and presented to the respondent commission at its meetings in December 1987 and January and February 1988.


3. By letter dated February 29, 1988, Assistant Town Attorney Gerald Farrell denied the complainant's request.


4. By letter dated March 22, 1988, and filed with the Commission on March 23, 1988, the complainant appealed to the Commission.


5. It is found that the requested records list the names of the respondent commission's employees, how many days each one was absent each week, a code for the reason for the absence, and a key to aid in reading the code.


6. It is found that the complainant did receive two sets of absence lists; that they were created to meet his request; that they contain errors, ommissions, and inconsistencies; and that they are not copies of the original absence lists the respondent commission's members discussed at their meetings.


Docket #FIC 88-104 Page Two


7. It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.


8. It is found that the requested records are personnel records of public employees.


9. It is also found that there is a legitimate public interest in the disclosure of the requested records.


10. It is further found that disclosure of when these employees were absent would not constitute an invasion of the personal privacy of these employees, who voluntarily chose to serve the public and be paid with public funds.


11. It is likewise found that a general description of why an employee was absent on a given day, such as "sick" or "jury duty," would not constitute an invasion of personal privacy.


12. It is found that the complainant does not seek detailed descriptions of why an employee was absent, such as the nature of an employee's illness.


13. It is concluded, therefore, that 1-19(b)(2), G.S., does not exempt of the requested records from disclosure.


14. It is concluded that the respondents violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by denying the complainant access to the requested records.


The following order by the Commision is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complainant:


1. The respondents forthwith shall provide the complainant with access to the records described in paragraph 2 of the findings above.


2. The respondents henceforth shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of August 10, 1988.


Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission