FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Stephen R. Corbeil
against Docket #FIC 94-115
Certification Unit, State of Connecticut, Department of Administrative
Services, Bureau of Personnel and Labor Relations,
Respondent February 8, 1995
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 3, 1994, 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 April 8, 1994 and filed with the Commission on April 11, 1994, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying him access to records containing certain personal information regarding the job applicants who sat for the Librarian I Examination No. 9310670, (hereinafter "the examination").
3. It is found that the complainant by letter dated March 23, 1994 requested from the respondent access to records of the gender, age, marital status, physical handicap, mental handicap, veteran preference, race and corresponding test score for each applicant who sat for the examination, (hereinafter "requested records").
4. It is found that the respondent denied the complainant's request by letter dated April 15, 1994 claiming that "there is no public document listing all of the information that you request" but offered to be of further assistance to the complainant if needed.
5. It is found that following the April 15 denial a series of communications ensued between the complainant and the
Docket #FIC 94-115 Page 2
respondent, following which the respondent provided the complainant with access to a redacted copy of each job applicant's data sheet, with their social security number and handicapped status deleted. The respondent also provided the complainant with a copy of the examination list containing the names, addresses, test scores and internal ranking of each job applicant.
6. It is found that as of the date of the hearing in this matter the only information at issue and which the respondent has not provided to the complainant is each job applicant's social security number and handicapped status recorded on the applicant data sheet.
7. It is concluded that the applicant data sheet is a public record within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
8. The Commission takes administrative notice of its decision in Docket #FIC 89-76, Eric Garrison v. Supervisor, Unclaimed Property Division, State of Connecticut, Office of the Treasurer.
9. In FIC 89-76, the Commission found that:
...social security numbers are used by both the public and private sector for a wide range of personal identification purposes including but not limited to use of this number for state and federal taxpayer identification.
It is found that disclosure of social security numbers would allow persons with knowledge of such numbers to access a wealth of data, including personal, financial, and tax data concerning the individual assigned that number.
The Commission notes that in the past it has consistently declined to order disclosure of social security numbers contained in personnel, medical or similiar files pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S, ... as such disclosure would constitute an invasion of personal privacy.
10. Similarly here, as in FIC 89-76, it is found that the social security numbers and handicapped status requested although not contained in the personnel, medical or similar files of an employee as anticipated by 1-19(b)(2), G.S.,
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nonetheless, are precisely the types of information ordinarily recorded on records contained in an employee's personnel file.
11. It is found that the job applicants whose social security numbers and handicapped status are at issue are not public employees but are applicants for public employment.
12. Under the circumstances of this case, and in light of finding 8 and 9, above, the Commission in its discretion declines to order the disclosure of the social security numbers of job applicants because it would lead to an invasion of the privacy of those persons who lack the ability to object to disclosure in this case.
13. However, with respect to the handicapped status, it is found that the respondent failed to prove that disclosure of such information is prohibited by federal or state law, or that disclosure would invade the job applicant's privacy.
14. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the complainant's rights when it failed to disclose the requested social security number. However, the respondent violated the complainant's right by denying access to the requested handicapped status.
The following order of the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is dismissed with respect to the request for disclosure of the social security numbers.
2. Forthwith, the respondent shall provide the complainant with access to the handicapped status of the job applicants as set forth in his request, more fully described in paragraph 3 of the findings, above.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 8, 1995.
Debra L. Rembowski
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:
STEPHEN R. CORBEIL
356 Oak Street
East Hartford, CT 06108
CERTIFICATION UNIT, STATE OF CONNECTICUT, DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES, BUREAU OF PERSONNEL AND LABOR RELATIONS
c/o Thomas P. Clifford III, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
55 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06106-1774
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission