OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by
William J. Stone,
Docket #FIC 2000-198
Administrator, State of
April 20, 2001
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 22, 2000, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. An in camera inspection was conducted with respect to the investigation summary at issue.
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 §1-200(1), G.S.
2. It is found that by letter of request, mailed March 15, 2000, the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with copies of the following records:
i) an official copy of the fact-finding minutes conducted on March 10, 2000 at the District Three administration building;
ii) an official copy of the Executive Order No. 16 meeting and or minutes thereof conducted on march 13;
iii) any and all official documentation of a meeting held in [the Department of Transportation] DOT Maintenance Director Joseph J. Czarnecki’s office February 8, 2000, attended by Mr. Czarnecki, Special Services Section Manager Michael Magda, Edward Marcos of the Office of Affirmative Action and the complainant;
iv) any and all documentation including, but not limited to, investigative summaries of conditions in the District Three administrative office which detail the following behaviors dating from 1994: a) allegations of physical assaults, b) allegations of threatening behaviors, c) behaviors by any employee that create or created a climate of hostility, d) any behavior by management personnel deemed inappropriate to the work environment, e) any finding by the Affirmative Action Division detailing a climate of hostility dating back to 1994;
v) any and all records, statements, written text and or memoranda prepared by or distributed to any employee of the DOT, or any other state agency alleging inappropriate and or hostile behavior by the complainant;
vi) any and all records of a meeting conducted on October 4, 1999 in the DOT headquarters building at 2800 Berlin Turnpike attended by the following individuals Louis Malerba, Michael Turano, Rosario Ferrara, Joseph Czarnecki, Edward Marcos, Larry Tauro, Lloyd Champagne and the complainant; and
vii) a complete up to date copy of the complainant’s personnel file.
(hereinafter “requested records”).
3. It is found that by letter dated March 20, 2000, the respondent personnel administrator acknowledged receipt of the request, and informed the complainant that the request was being processed and that he would hear from the respondents in the near future.
4. It is found that by letter dated March 30, 2000, the respondent personnel administrator provided the following responses (which have been summarized) to the complainant regarding the seven items requested and described in paragraph 2, above:
i) minutes enclosed;
ii) no minutes are available;
iii) not aware of the existence to the requested records;
iv) more specific information needed in order to respond to your request;
v) unaware of the existence of the requested documents, except for data which might appear under your request item i) or in your personnel file, as explained in item vii) below;
vi) not aware of the existence of the requested documents; and
vii) a copy of your personnel file will be mailed to you upon receipt of your check in the amount of $45.00
5. It is found that by letter dated April 7, 2000 to the respondent personnel administrator, the complainant acknowledged receipt of the minutes with respect to his request item i); requested clarification regarding whether records exists or not with respect to his request items ii), iii), v) and vi); and provided additional information to the respondents that he believed an October 4, 1999 investigative summary authored by Aaliyah Mahasin-Blade exists with respect to his request item iv).
6. By letter dated April 18, 2000 and filed on April 24, 2000, the complainant then appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying him copies of the requested records.
7. It is found that items ii) and
iv) of the complainant’s request, as described in paragraph 2, above, are
the only items that remain at issue in this appeal.
Consequently, the findings of the Commission will be limited to those
8. With respect to the
complainant’s request, as described in paragraph 2ii) above, it is found
that the respondents do not maintain or keep on file any records that are
responsive to such request. Consequently,
it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as alleged
with respect to the complainant’s request as described in paragraph 2ii)
9. With respect to the complainant’s request, as described in paragraph 2iv) above, it is found that the respondents maintain and keep on file a two page affirmative action investigative summary, dated March 24, 1998, that is responsive to the complainant’s request (hereinafter “summary”). However, the respondents contend that the summary is exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-210(b)(2), G.S., which permits the nondisclosure of “personnel or medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy.”
Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides
in relevant part:
Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained…by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office…hours or to receive a copy of such records…. Any agency rule or regulation, or part thereof, that conflicts with the provisions of this subsection or diminishes or curtails in any way the rights granted by this subsection shall be void…
11. It is concluded that the
summary is a “public record” within the meaning of §1-210(a),
12. The respondents submitted the summary to the Commission and an in-camera inspection was conducted. For identification purposes, the summary has been designated in-camera page # 2000-198-1 and 2.
13. In Perkins v. Freedom of Information Commission, 228 Conn. 158, 175 (1993), the Supreme Court set forth the test for the exemption contained in §1-210(b)(2), G.S. The claimant must first establish that the files in question are personnel, medical or similar files. Second, the claimant must show that disclosure of the records would constitute an invasion of personal privacy. In determining whether disclosure would constitute an invasion of personal privacy, the claimant must establish both of two elements: first, that the information sought does not pertain to legitimate matters of public concern, and second, that such information is highly offensive to a reasonable person.
14. It is found that the summary constitutes “similar” files
within the meaning of §1-210(b)(2),
15. It is found that the respondents notified the employees named in the summary that a request had been made for such summary. It is found that the subject of the summary objects to its disclosure.
16. It is found that the summary
contains the findings of the Affirmative Action Division following an
investigation of an allegation of sexual harassment.
The summary details the alleged harassment and contains some answers of
individuals who were interviewed.
17. It is found that the
information contained in the summary pertains to legitimate matters of public
concern. It is also found that
the summary does not contain sexually explicit or descriptive information such
as allegations of sexual contact and sexual improprieties or details of
intimate personal relationships, within the meaning of Rocque v. Freedom of
Information Commission, et al., 255 Conn. 651 (2001).
18. It is also found that the
information contained in the summary is not highly offensive to a reasonable
19. Consequently, it is concluded
that disclosure of the summary would not constitute an invasion of personal
privacy, within the meaning of §1-210(b)(2), G.S., and therefore, the
respondents violated §1-210(a), G.S., when they failed to provide the
complainant with a copy of the summary.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Forthwith, the respondents shall provide the complainant with a copy of the summary, more fully described in paragraph 9 of the findings, above.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of April 20, 2001.
Petrea A. Jones
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:
William J. Stone
130 Stephen Barberino Way
Wallingford, CT 06492-1752
Personnel Administrator, State of Connecticut,
Department of Transportation, Bureau of
Finance and Administration; and State of
Connecticut, Department of Transportation
c/o Charles H. Walsh, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
55 Elm Street, PO Box 120
Hartford, CT 06141-0120
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission