FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Steve Kemper and Northeast Magazine, The Hartford Courant,
against Docket #FIC 91-246
City of Hartford Personnel Department, Gary Kureczka, Steven Kardys, Angelo Musumeci, Harold Sandiford, Ted Polak, Steve Santilli, Douglas Gaboury, Paul Piezzo and Frank Abreu,
Respondent March 25, 1992
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 13, 1991 and January 2, 1992, at which times the complainants 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 and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. On July 2, 1991 the complainants requested copies of job applications and applications used for promotions for certain individuals.
3. On July 31, 1991 the complainants were informed that the records would not be released without the employees' consent.
4. On August 9, 1991 the respondent denied the complainant access to the records of twelve employees or former employees because they had either objected to disclosure or had not consented to disclosure of the requested records, and on August 12, 1991 the complainant filed his complaint.
5. At the December 12, 1991 hearing the complainants indicated that they were no longer seeking records of two of the twelve employees identified in the complaint, Greg Strona and Elijah El Hajjbey.
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6. At the December 12, 1991 hearing the following persons were granted party status: Gary Kureczka, Steven Kardys, Angelo Musumeci, Harold Sandiford, Ted Polak, Steve Santilli, Douglas Gaboury, Paul Piezzo, and Frank Abreu.
7. It is found that the city mailed notice to Ronald Colaresi, but at least initially it did not have a correct address for him. Thereafter the city made additional efforts to notify Mr. Colaresi and it is found that such attempts meet the requirements of 1-20a, G.S.
8. It is found that the complainants do not seek some of the information contained on the requested records. What therefore may be redacted by agreement is the following information that is required on the respondent city's application for employment: (a) home addresses (Item 3),
(b) length of time at current address (Item 4), (c) telephone number (Item 5), and (d) salary information.
9. Subsequent to the hearing the respondent agreed to provide copies of the requested records for in camera inspection.
10. It is found that the job application forms contain the following information in addition to the material that may be redacted in accordance with paragraph 8, above:
(a) date of birth; (b) previous convictions (for offenses other than minor traffic violations); (c) educational information (including name and location of schools, course or major, dates attended, degrees received); (d) other training; (e) previous employment information (starting and ending dates, names of employer and supervisor, reason for leaving, last job title; and (f) special skills and abilities (professional licenses including driver's license, facility in languages other than English, typing ability, etc).
11. It is found that these same forms are used for promotional exams.
12. It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
13. It is found that the respondents believed that the applications would be confidential.
14. The Commission takes administrative notice of its own records in Docket #FIC 91-95, Robert McCloud v. City of Hartford, Director of Personnel, wherein the city claimed exemption for addresses, phone numbers, and social security
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numbers but not the contents of job applications similar to those now claimed exempt. (See paragraph 10 of that final decision and the index for in camera records submitted for in camera inspection in that case.)
15. It is concluded that the respondents' expectation of privacy with respect to the job applications was not reasonable because for many years this Commission has treated such applications a public records subject to disclosure, and because in #FIC 91-95, Robert McCloud v. City of Hartford, Director of Personnel, the city did not claim any exemption pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S., for job applications similar to those now claimed exempt.
16. The respondents argue that the disclosure of the job application forms, even with the agreement for redaction of certain information, would be an invasion of privacy because the complainants will publish an article for Northeast Magazine concerning the public works scandal in Hartford, and that the discussion of employees' qualifications in the context of the scandal and in relation to other employees is embarrassing.
17. The respondents contend in addition that disclosure of the job application forms, even with the agreement for redaction of certain information, would be an invasion of privacy because information about an employee's education or lack thereof, criminal record, training and experience may put him in an unfavorable light, or simply be a source of embarrassment because the employee feels the public will not judge him favorably.
18. It is found that the job applications disclose only one criminal conviction for a minor offense that took place nearly twenty years ago.
19. It is concluded that disclosure of this conviction would be an invasion of the privacy of the individual who disclosed it, and therefore it may be redacted.
20. It is found that the requested records contain a birth certificate, a social security card and a report of separation from active duty from the military.
21. It is concluded that disclosure of the items described at paragraph twenty would constitute an invasion of privacy pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S., and therefore, it is exempt from disclosure.
22. It is found that for a reasonable man, disclosure of individual job qualifications as presented on the job applications that were examined in camera, is not in itself embarrassing because (a) it is widely accepted that formal
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training is not the only source of skill development and that education occurs on the job; (b) the job applications set forth an applicant's qualifications in the most positive light, and (c) the function of the application is to persuade an employer to hire or promote an applicant.
23. It is concluded that the respondents have failed to prove that the disclosure of the records specifically requested by the complainants are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S. except for the record of a conviction described at paragraph 18 and 19, above.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. The respondent personnel department shall forthwith provide the complainants with copies of the requested records.
2. Prior to delivering the records to the complainants, the respondent personnel department may redact from the records the items the complainants agreed to forego as described at paragraph 8, the arrest record discussed at paragraphs 18 and 19, and the items discussed at paragraphs 20 and 21.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 25, 1992.
Debra L. Rembowski
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:
The Hartford Courant
285 Broad Street
Hartford, CT 06115
City of Hartford Personnel Department
c/o Attorney Thomas R. Cox
Office of the Corporation Counsel
550 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103
Gary Kureczka, Steven Kardys, Angelo Musumeci, Harold Sandiford, Ted Polak, Steve Santilli, Douglas Gaboury, Paul Piezzo, Frank Abreu
c/o Attorney Barbara J. Collins
207 Washington Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission