Alabama attorney general opinions have indicated or opined that the following material in a personnel file would not generally be open: psychological evaluations, family history, religious affiliation or political opinions or activities, Op. Att’y Gen. Ala. No. 88-00079 (Dec. 16, 1987); marital status, medical history, confidential recommendations for employment, and drug or alcohol testing results, Op. Att’y Gen. Ala. No. 96-00003, 1995 Ala. AG LEXIS 59 (Oct. 4, 1995); Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. No. 2001-269, 2001 Ala. AG LEXIS 165 (Aug. 29, 2001).
Information about employees that is gathered from employers by the Director of Unemployment Compensation is held confidential except as necessary for the proper presentation of the contest of an unemployment claim. Ala. Code § 25-4-116.
The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has held that state agencies must allow inspection of nonidentifying hiring and training records. Graham v. Ala. State Employees Ass’n, 991 So. 2d 710 (Ala. Civ. App. 2007) (requiring the Alabama State Personnel Department to produce records related to the hiring and training of administrative law judges).
The Alabama attorney general has stated that employee time sheets are public records subject to inspection under the Public Records Law. Certain sensitive information contained in the time sheets, such as doctor’s excuses, time off for medical reasons, or personal vacation time is confidential. In addition, other information that may be contained in the records requested, such as medical history, confidential recommendations for employment, drug or alcohol testing results, home addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, and marital status of public employees, are not public records and are not subject to disclosure. The custodian of records responding to these requests for public records should ensure that the aforementioned sensitive personnel information is redacted from any publicly disclosed records. Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. No. 2008-073, 2008 Ala. AG LEXIS 43 (Apr. 21, 2008).
H2-B visa information is subject to disclosure under the Alabama Public Records Law. S. Poverty Law Ctr.v. Kennedy CV 06-787 (Cir. Cit. of Montgomery County Sept. 26, 2006).
Student evaluations of their teachers are part of “personnel file” and are exempt from disclosure. Connolly v. Bromery, 15 Mass. App. Ct. 661, 662 (1983).
Considerable attention has been paid in recent years to municipal awards of disability benefits to public employees, an area where the individual interest in medical privacy butts up against the public interest in knowing about the expenditure of public funds. On the one hand, the accessibility of pension and disability records will depend on whether they contain medical information that, directly or indirectly, relates to an identifiable individual. When reviewing this issue, courts have been vigilant in protecting medical privacy. See, e.g., Globe Newspaper Co. v. Boston Retirement Bd., 388 Mass. 427, 438, 446 N.E.2d 1051 (1983); see also Logan v. Commissioner of Dep’t of Industrial Accidents, 68 Mass. App. Ct. 533, 535-36, 863 N.E.2d 559, 562 (Mass. App. Ct. 2007). Even redacted medical records (shorn of names and other data) will be withheld where there is a “grave risk” that individuals familiar with the patient (such as co-workers) could identify the patient and his medical condition. Id. (“indirect identification”); see alsoGlobe Newspaper Co., 388 Mass. at 438; Wakefield Teachers Assn. v. School Comm. of Wakefield, 431 Mass. 792, 795, 731 N.E.2d 63 (2000). Nevertheless, the result has been different where the requester seeks only the names of doctors who certified disability applications. Patriot Ledger v. Masterson, 09-400, 2009 WL 928796 (Mass. Super. Apr. 2, 2009). A carefully tailored records request that does not identify individual claimants may prove successful, particularly because, as one judge ruled, “there is a strong public interest in prompt disclosure of this information. ... Much of the process by which disability pensions are awarded is shrouded in secrecy. The awards themselves, however, involve taxpayer money and impact the budgets of our cities and towns, which are already struggling to fund important public services in these difficult economic times. Although no individual should have the intimate details of his or her medical history open for public inspection, the public must be also be satisfied that the applicants for disability are not abusing the benefits extended to them and that the powers conferred on retirement boards to grant or deny such applications are being exercised wisely. If some light can be shed on the process by which those decisions are reached in a way which does not impinge on individual privacy, then that will promote public confidence – or lead to reform if problems are revealed. Patriot Ledger v. Masterson, 09-400, 2009 WL 928796 (Mass. Super. Apr. 2, 2009) (Sanders, J.).