Many of you have received notice from your Human Resources Department informing you of yet another Public Disclosure Request for information pertaining to your job. WPEA is aware of this request. This latest request is very similar to the ones the state received last year. The request is seeking information about your job and your status as a public employee. We do not know what will be done with this information, but we fear it will not be to the benefit of public employees.
WPEA wants to inform you that all the information that has been requested is considered to be public information and therefore must be released if someone makes the proper request. WPEA, along with other public sector unions, has an injunction that is still pending, to block the release of your birthdate. That effort is ongoing as we await a date from the Court of appeals. Further, there are numerous bills being introduced this legislative session to amend the public disclosure law to prevent the future release of personal information pertaining to the state’s employees. Because this requestor is not receiving birthdates, WPEA is not filing a legal objection to the request.
The Public Disclosure law is very helpful in that it allows people, such as WPEA, to obtain information from state employers that details adverse action taken against its employees. The converse side is that the same Public Disclosure law can also be used to obtain the specifics about state employees and their work place.
Below you can read the FAQs from the Office of Financial Management. If you would like more information, please contact Lane Hatfield or Jason Holland at WPEA headquarters.
Notification to All Government Employees
from the Office of Financial Management
What is this email about?
The Office of Financial Management (OFM) has received a public records request for
information about all state employees. A representative sample of the information to be
provided is attached along with this notification.
OFM has determined that these records are public and that Washington State law requires
them to be released. These records will be released on February 16, 2017.
Why are agencies providing notice of this request?
Under the Public Records Act, chapter 42.56 RCW, agencies may notify “persons named in the record . . . that release of a record has been requested.” In addition, some of the state’s
collective bargaining agreements require notice to employees when their information is
requested. Rather than only notifying the employees under the bargaining agreements, we are notifying all state employees as a matter of policy.
Who is requesting this information and why?
By law, requesters do not need to identify themselves or give a reason for the request. In this case, the request was made by Mr. Robert Hungerschafer.
Is a copy of the original request available?
A copy of the original request is available from your HR division. It consists of the original request and a clarifying email. PLEASE NOTE that although the original request asks for birth dates, the requester has agreed to receive these records without that information. Therefore, no birth dates will be provided to the requester.
Do employees need to do anything to respond to this request?
No, employees do not need to do anything for this request. The employer must notify
employees that the request has been made.
May employees seek an injunction to prevent the release of these records?
Employees may seek an injunction to prevent the release of these records. To prevent the
release of these records, OFM would need to be served with an injunction by close of business on February 15, 2017. Under RCW 42.56.540, an employee may seek an injunction in the superior court for the county where the employee resides, or in Thurston County Superior Court, if the release of records “would clearly not be in the public interest and would substantially and irreparably damage any person, or would substantially and irreparably damage vital governmental functions.”
Whether or not to seek an injunction is a decision that must be made by each individual
employee. State agencies cannot provide advice to employees on this matter. Employees should be aware that the superior courts may charge certain fees or costs for an injunction. Employees may want to obtain the advice of private counsel before deciding whether to pursue an injunction.
Where can I get more information?
If you want additional information or have questions about this request, you should direct your inquiry to your agency or college Human Resources department. Please do not contact OFM about this request.