FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In The Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Frank Panzarella and ConnectiCOSH,
against Docket #FIC 96-113
Chairman, State of Connecticut Workers’
Compensation Commission, and State of
Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission,
Respondents December 11, 1996
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 23, 1996, at which time 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. It is found that by letter dated February 23, 1996, the complainants requested of the respondents access to the following:
a. the number of joint health and safety committees to date that have
been approved by the (respondent) commission;
b. a list of the company names and addresses of those companies
whose (joint health and safety) committees have been approved; and
c. a list of contacts for each of these committees, at least one from
management and one from employee representation.
3. It is found that by letter of response dated March 21, 1996, the respondents indicated that the requested records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §§31-254, and 1-19(b)(10), G.S., because they were provided to the respondents in a confidential manner by the department of labor, and that they are also exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(2), G.S.
4. It is found that the records identified in paragraph 2, above, are public records within the meaning of §1-18a(d), G.S.
5. By letter of complaint dated April 1, 1996 and filed with this Commission on April 2, 1996, the complainants alleged that the respondents violated the provisions of the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide to them prompt access to public information.
6. Section 1-19(a), G.S., in relevant part provides:
Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state
statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public
agency, whether or not such records are required by any
rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person
shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during
regular office or business hours.
7. With respect to the allegations contained in paragraph 5, above, the respondents contend that the requested records identified in paragraphs 2b and c, above, are exempt pursuant to §§1-19(b)(10) and 31-254, G.S., because the respondents received the requested records from the department of labor only after executing a confidentiality agreement pursuant to §31-254, G.S.
8. It is also found, however, that at the hearing into this matter, the respondents disclosed to the complainants that information requested pursuant to paragraph 2a, above.
9. It is concluded that the respondent’s disclosure of the requested records identified in paragraph 2a, above, five months after the complainants’ request was not prompt within the meaning of §1-19(a), G.S.
10. Section 31-254, G.S., in relevant part states:
Each employer … shall keep accurate records of employment … containing such information as the administrator may by regulation prescribe in order to effectuate the purposes of this chapter. Such records shall be open to, and available for, inspection and copying by the administrator or his authorized representatives …. Information thus obtained shall not be published or be open to public inspection, other than to public employees in the performance of their public duties, in any manner revealing the employee’s or the employer’s identity. Any employee of the administrator, or any other public employee, who violates any provision of this section shall be fined not more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than six months or both and shall be dismissed from the service….(emphasis added).
11. It is found that the respondents acquired the records containing the data described in paragraphs 2b and c, above, from the department of labor as public employees in the performance of their public duties, and that the respondent chairman signed a confidentiality agreement on July 19, 1995 agreeing to protect the records at issue from disclosure in accordance with §31-254, G.S.
12. The complainants claim that:
a. it is not reasonable that employers would have an expect-
ation that their identities solely as Connecticut employers
would be kept confidential pursuant to §31-254, G.S.; and,
b. the requested records should not be protected from
disclosure pursuant to §31-254, G.S., just because the respondents
chose to compile the information from a confidential list when
non-confidential lists of Connecticut employers are available
from other sources.
13. It is found that §31-254 is a state statute which otherwise provides within the meaning of §1-19(a), G.S.
14. It is further found that the complainants’ arguments identified in paragraphs 12a and b, above, do not override the applicability of §31-254, G.S., to this case.
15. It is concluded that the records identified in paragraph 2b and c, above, are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §§1-19(a) and 31-254, G.S.
16. It is concluded that with respect to the records identified in paragraphs 2b and c, above, the respondents are not in violation of the provisions of the FOI Act.
17. Accordingly, it is unnecessary for this Commission to examine the respondents’ alternative claims of exemption under the facts of this case.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth the respondents shall strictly comply with the promptness provisions of §1-19(a), G.S.
2. With respect to the records identified in paragraphs 2b and c, above, the complaint is hereby dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of December 11, 1996.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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:
Frank Panzarella and ConnectiCOSH
77 Huyshope Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
Chairman, State of Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission,
and State of Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission
c/o Philip M. Schultz, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
55 Elm Street
PO Box 120
Hartford, CT 06141
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission