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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Freedom of Information requests


Freedom of Information requests
Chittenden v Novack, NYS Supreme Court, Westchester County, [Not selected for publication in the Official Reports]

In Chittenden, the court considered a number of issues concerning a union president's request for certain records under the Freedom of Information Law [FOIL]. Responding to a number of issues presented by the union's demand for information and records pursuant to FOIL, the court said:

1. A grievance procedure under the collective bargaining agreement was not the proper procedure for appealing the denial of FOIL requests.

2. A FOIL request for the names of all members of the police department who have been on chronic sick leave, with six questions regarding each member, is not a specific request for records.

3. Records disclosing the medical history of employees or applicants are exempt as an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under the Public Officer's Law Section 89(2)(b)(i).

4. Attendance records or time sheets for employees that are redacted as to the medical reason for the absence are not an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

5. Records containing statistical data, such as the amount of sick time or vacation time accumulated or used, dates or times of an employee's attendance or absence, notations that sick leave or vacation time was charged, are relevant to public accountability and subject to disclosure.

6. Public inspections of portions of employment records or applications, which reveal an existing medical condition and/or treatment for disabilities is exempt from disclosure as “medical histories.”

7. A records access officer is not required to answer questions or analyze information on behalf of individuals or organizations making the request.

8. The agency must supply appropriate records upon its receipt of a proper request, provided such records exist, but is under no obligation to furnish records, which do not exist.

9. Intra-agency materials not subject to disclosure under FOIL. According to the ruling, “opinions, advice, evaluations, deliberation, proposals, policy formulation, conclusions or recommendations are exempt from public access” under FOIL, as are a government agency deliberative functions.

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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