Privacy of Information

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Q: I am a teacher.  My union has made freedom-of-information requests to some charter schools, which are not unionized, seeking payroll records for all teachers.  Our intent in requesting the teacher names is to expand our membership.  The charter schools have objected.

A: Under the freedom-of-information law, an entity may deny access to records that would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.  The law specifically defines such an invasion to include, without limitation, release of lists of names and addresses if such lists would be used for solicitation or fund-raising purposes.

Ordering disclosure of the names would do nothing to further the policies of the freedom-of-information law.  The purpose of the law is to assist the public in formulating intelligent, informed choices with respect to both the direction and the scope of governmental activities.

There is no indication that you intend to use the names for such purposes as exposing governmental abuses or evaluating governmental activities.  You seek the teachers’ names merely as a convenient mechanism for contacting prospective members.  Although you certainly possess a right to seek dues-paying members, you may not rely on the freedom-of-information law to achieve that end.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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