FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
against Docket #FIC 89-282
State of Connecticut Department of Correction, Human Resources Division,
Respondent July 9, 1990
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 14, 1989, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint dated July 7, 1989 and filed with the Commission on July 11, 1989, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent had denied his request for a copy of a character reference given to the respondent by the complainant's former employer.
3. It is found that the complainant in June of 1989 was an applicant for a position with the respondent, and was interviewed for such a position after passing a written examination.
4. It is found that the complainant's interviewer asked the complainant to consent to the respondent contacting the complainant's employer, and to sign a "Release of Information Form."
5. It is found that the complainant was initially reluctant to sign the form and to give his consent, but ultimately consented on his understanding that the respondent would honor his request to contact the complainant's supervisor rather than the owner of the business, with whom the complainant had a strained personal relationship.
6. It is found that the respondent nonetheless telephoned and interviewed the owner of the business employing the complainant.
Docket #FIC 89-282 Page 2
7. It is found that the owner was intitially reluctant to provide information about the complainant, but did provide a predominantly negative evaluation of the complainant when promised confidentiality by the respondent.
8. It is found that the respondent made a written record of the evaluation described in paragraphs 6-7, above.
9. It is concluded that the record described in paragraph 8, above, is a public record within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
10. It is found that the complainant orally requested a copy of the record described in paragraph 9, above, between June 22 and June 29, 1989.
11. It is found that the respondent denied the complainant's request on June 29, 1989.
12. At the conclusion of the hearing on this complaint, the respondent moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., require that a request for a copy of a public record be in writing.
13. It is found that the respondent denied the complainant's request based on the confidentiality of the record, and instructed the complainant that the only way he could obtain the record was by appealing that denial to this Commission.
14. It is found that the respondent at no time before the conclusion of the hearing on this matter requested or required the complainant to reduce his request to writing, or otherwise asserted any right to deny the request because it was not in writing.
15. It is found that the parties do not dispute the fact or the date of the complainant's request, or what that request was for.
16. It is therefore found that the respondent waived any right to require that the request described in paragraph 10, above, be reduced to writing.
17. The respondent also maintains that the complainant waived any rights granted under the Freedom of Information Act of access to the requested record by his execution of the "Release of Information Form" (the "Release") referenced in paragraph 4, above.
18. It is found that the "Release" was drafted by the respondent.
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19. It is found that the Release does not unambiguously waive rights granted under the Freedom of Information Act.
20. It is also found that the complainant did not understand the Release to be a waiver of his rights of access granted under the Freedom of Information Act.
21. It is also found that the complainant would not have signed the Release but for his understanding that the respondent would contact the complainant's supervisor and not the owner of the business employing the complainant.
22. It is therefore found that the complainant did not waive his rights of access granted under the Freedom of Information Act by his execution of the Release.
23. The respondent further maintains that the requested record is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
24. It is found that the requested record is contained within a personnel or similar file within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
25. It is also found that the requested record concerns the complainant exclusively.
26. It is concluded that 1-19b(a)(2), G.S., requires the respondent "to disclose information in its personnel files ... to the individual who is the subject of such information."
27. It is concluded that the requested record is not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
28. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with a copy of the requested record.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent shall henceforth strictly comply with the requirements of 1-19 and 1-19b(a)(2), G.S.
2. In light of its Final Decision in Docket #FIC 89-419, the Commission declines in its discretion to order disclosure of the requested record.
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Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of July 9, 1990.
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
13 Windsor Place
Naugatuck, CT 06770
STATE OF CONNECTICUT, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, HUMAN RESOURCES DIVISION
c/o Margaret Quilter Chapple, Esquire
Assistant Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission