In the Matter of a Request
for Advisory Opinion



     Advisory Opinion   #45

Bristol Board of Education, Applicant





On March 25, 1981, the Commission considered and agreed to respond to the request for an advisory opinion filed on behalf of the Bristol Board of Education.


In its request, the applicant states that it has recently received a request for the names and addresses of all substitute teachers employed by the applicant over the last school year. The applicant notes the enactment of Conn. Gen. Stats. § 31-128f, effective July 1, 1980, and seeks the Commission's opinion to the following question:


Do the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-128f modify a public agency's obligations under Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-19 where the information sought is personally identifiable and is contained in employee's personnel files?


It is the Commission's opinion that the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stats. § 31-128f do not modify any of the obliga­tions of a public agency under Conn. Gen. Stats. §1-19.


§31‑128f reads:


No individually identifiable information contained in the personnel file or medical records of any employee shall be disclosed by an employer to any person, or entity not employed by or affiliated with the employer without the written authorization of such employee except where the information is limited to the verification of dates of employment and the employee's title or position and wage or salary or where the disclosure is made: (1) To a third party that maintains or prepares employment records or performs other employment‑related services for the employer; (2) pursuant to a lawfully issued admin­istrative summons or judicial order, including a search warrant or subpoena, or in response to a government audit or the investigation or defense of personnel‑related complaints against the employer;




(3) pursuant to a request by a law enforcement agency for an employee's home address and dates of his attendance at work; (4) in response to an apparent medical emergency or to apprise the employee's physician of a medical condition of which the employee may not be aware; (5) to comply with federal, state or local laws or regulations; or (6) where the information is disseminated pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.  Where such authorization involves medical records the employer shall inform the concerned employee of his or his physician's right of inspection and correction, his right to withhold authorization, and the effect of any withholding of such authorization upon such employee.


This statute is part of Chapter 563a of the General Statutes. A perusal of that chapter reveals that it is concerned with employment records of private entities, and not with those of public agencies. Thus, for purposes of the chapter, "employer" is defined as "an individual, corporation, partnership or unincorporated association."  Conn. Gen. Stats. § 31-128a(2).  The definition does not include any of the peculiarly governmental characteristics of a "public agency," as that term is defined in Conn. Gen. Stats.


Furthermore, Conn. Gen. Stats. § 1-19(a) provides that all records maintained or kept on file by a public agency shall be available for public inspection or copying, unless exempt from disclosure by, among other things, state statute. Conn. Gen. Stats.
§31-128f(5), on the other hand, provides that personally identifiable employee information contained in personnel files or medical records shall not be disclosed by an employer without the employee's consent, except where disclosure is made to comply with, among other things, state law. If Conn. Gen. Stats. § 31-128f were to be read as including public agency employers, there would be an illogical circuity between these two statutory exceptions. Such an absurd and bizarre result should not be attributed to the legislature. Sillman v. Sillman, 168 Conn. 144, 149 (1975); Hartford Electric Light Co. v. Water Resources Commission, 162 Conn. 89, 103 (1971).


Therefore, it is the Commission's opinion that the proscription in Conn. Gen. Stats. § 31‑128f against disclosure by employers refers only to information in the personnel records and medical files of private entities.  It does not modify any disclosure obligations of a public agency as set forth in the Freedom of Information Act, particularly in Conn. Gen. Stats. §§ 1-19(a) and (b)(2).  The Commission believes that this conclusion gives full effect to the legislative intent as expressed in that act and Chapter 563a of the General Statutes. The Commission also believes that this conclusion recognizes what is clearly the prevailing law of personal privacy both with respect to private citizens, and with respect to public officials and employees.  See South Windsor Board of Education v. Freedom of Information Commission, (Super. Ct. JD Hartford‑New Britain, No. 128290, Memorandum of Decision dated January 5, 1978, Spada, J.), p. 10 et seq.





                                                                                            By Order of the Freedom of
                                                                                            Information Commission


                                                                                            Judith A. Lahey, Chairman of
                                                                                            of the Freedom of Information

Date  ___________________



Wendy Rae Briggs,
Clerk of the Commission