FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Liz Dupont-Diehl and Journal Inquirer,
against Docket #FIC 92-349
Director of Human Resources, East Hartford Public Schools,
Respondent July 28, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 23, 1993, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Eleven of the records at issue in this case were accepted by this Commission for an in camera inspection, as offered by the respondent. With its in-camera submission post-hearing, the respondent also submitted to this Commission a duly executed affidavit that he and his employees were unable to locate a twelfth and final application after an exhaustive search for such.
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 filed with this Commission on November 13, 1992, the complainants alleged that the respondent violated the provisions of the FOI Act by denying the release of the employment applications of the security guards for the East Hartford public schools as well as the dates of birth for those individuals.
3. It is found that on October 7, 1992, the complainants requested in writing the employment applications and dates of birth of the East Hartford public school system's security guards, which request was denied by the respondent by letter dated October 21, 1992.
4. The records identified in paragraph 2, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
5. At the hearing into this matter, the complainants stated that they do not seek any of the following information: social security numbers, medical information, home addresses or telephone numbers of job applicants, or prior earnings. Accordingly, those portions of the requested records are not at
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issue in this case.
6. It is found that the application forms at issue are one page in length and request answers to the following questions in addition to that information not sought by the complainants as outlined in paragraph 5, above:
name of applicant and category of job sought; whether applicant is an American citizen; whether applicant is a resident of East Hartford and for how many years; schools attended; occupation or trade; whether applicant has served in the U.S. armed forces or has ever been convicted of a crime; whether applicant has ever been employed by the town of East Hartford and if so, by which department and for how long; the applicant's employment for the past five years by firm name and years; and three references by names and addresses. Only one application requests the height and weight of the applicant.
7. It is also found that the application form includes a line for the date and signature of applicant. At the bottom of the application form, the following statement appears, "please write letter of application on reverse side of this form." No such letters were submitted by the respondent for in-camera inspection, nor did the respondent offer any evidence whatsoever to indicate that any information therein, to the extent it exists, is exempt from disclosure.
8. It is found that the records at issue are personnel or medical files and similar files within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S. Accordingly, the issue for resolution by this Commission is whether the disclosure of those files would constitute invasions of personal privacy of these successful applicants for public positions.
9. At the hearing into this matter, the respondent stated that he believed release of the information at issue would violate the personal privacy of the security guard applicants, who all filed objections to disclosure with the respondent. He also stated that the information provided by third-party references about job applicants is given in confidence.
10. It is found that the record in this matter contains no evidence to indicate that any expectations of confidentiality on the part of successful applicants for public jobs were in fact reasonable.
11. It is furthermore concluded that once an individual is convicted of a crime, his or her expectation that the public not learn of that fact is in and of itself not a reasonable expectation absent special circumstances.
12. It is also concluded that the potential risk of
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embarrassment from the disclosure of wrongdoing is assumed by the wrongdoer, and does not provide an exemption from disclosure of such facts under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act.
13. The respondent also claimed that ages of job applicants should not be disclosed because his office stopped requesting that information several years ago, and he fears being accused of practicing age discrimination.
14. It is found that the respondent's statements outlined in paragraph 13, above, do not constitute exemptions to 1-19(a), G.S., nor do they establish that the information sought is embarrassing to the reasonable person or that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in that information.
15. It is concluded that for a reasonable person, disclosure of the individual job qualifications as presented on the job applications that were examined in-camera, is not in itself embarrassing. It is also concluded that for a reasonable person, disclosure of one's age is not in itself embarrassing, and could even arguably serve as a basis for pride.
16. It is accordingly concluded that the respondent's failure to provide that information sought by the complainants under the facts of this case constitutes a violation of 1-19(a), G.S.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. The respondent shall provide to the complainants free of charge copies of the employment applications at issue with the following information redacted:
social security numbers; height, weight and medical information; home addresses and telephone numbers of job applicants; and prior earning information.
2. The respondent shall also provide to the complainants, to the extent they exist, any letters of application requested by the respondent on the reverse side of the application form.
3. In its discretion, this Commission also permits the respondent to redact the home street addresses and telephone numbers, where provided, of private individuals serving as references for the job applicants at issue.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 28, 1993.
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:
Liz Dupont-Diehl and Journal Inquirer
306 Progress Drive
P. O. Box 510
Manchester, CT 06045-0510
Director of Human Resources, East Hartford Public Schools
c/o Atty. Richard A. Mills
Shipman & Goodwin
One American Row
Hartford, CT 06103
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission