guide TO MA PUBLIC RECORDS
During the City Council meeting when Rodney was doing his best lawyer impersonation he kept waiving paper saying the law says. the law is clear. He stated the law was clear but clearly it isn’t!
I’d like him to explain to someone (maybe his mouthpiece at the Sun) what the paper he was waiving around was and what he was trying to do other than to MISINFORM the public?
I pulled down and attached A Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law from the Sec. of State’s office. Releasing Resume’s isn’t clearly stated in this booklet that you have to do it or don’t have to do it. Of Particular interest to me was this:
Public Records Law G. L. c. 4, § 7(26)
“Public records” shall mean all books, papers, maps, photographs, recorded tapes, financial statements, statistical tabulations, or other documentary materials or data, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by any officer or employee of any agency, executive office,
department, board, commission, bureau, division or authority of the commonwealth, or of any political subdivision thereof, or of any authority established by the general court to serve a public purpose, unless such materials or data fall within the following exemptions in that they are:
(a) specifically or by necessary implication exempted from disclosure by statute;
(b) related solely to internal personnel rules and practices of the government unit, provided however, that such records shall be withheld only to the extent that proper performance of necessary governmental functions requires such withholding;
(c) personnel and medical files or information; also any other materials or data relating to a specifically named individual, the disclosure of which may constitute an unwarranted invasion of
Exemption (c) – The Privacy Exemption
Exemption (c), the privacy exemption, is the most frequently invoked exemption. The language of the exemption limits its application to:personnel and medical files or information; also any other materials or data relating to a specifically named individual, the disclosure of which may constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.38 The privacy exemption is made up of two separate clauses, the first of which exempts personnel and medical files. As a general rule, medical information will always be of a sufficiently personal nature to warrant exemption.
39 The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court determined that exempting personnel information from disclosure serves to protect the government’s ability to function effectively as an employer.40 The release of certain personnel information could disrupt the government’s capability to conduct sensitive and careful investigations regarding employees.41 While statutorily exempting personnel information from the expansive definition of public records, the Legislature did not explicitly define personnel information.42 However, judicial decisions acknowledge that the term is neither rigid, nor exact, and that the determination is case-specific.43 The custodian’s classification of materials as “personnel information” is not conclusive.44 Instead, the nature or character of the documents, as opposed to the
documents’ label, is crucial to the analysis.45 Historically, this office has broadly interpreted the personnel exemption;however, based on more recent judicial decisions, a more narrow interpretation is necessary. The nature of some materials and the context in which they arise take them beyond what the Legislature contemplated when exempting personnel information.46 Generally, personnel information which is useful in making employment decisions regarding an employee is sufficiently personal to be exempt pursuant to the first clause.
47 Such information may include employment applications, employee work evaluations, disciplinary documentation, and promotion, demotion, or termination information.
For example: Does this exemption allow all resumes of public officials to be withheld from disclosure? No. Some of the information contained in a resume may be exempt from disclosure because it relates to a specifically identifiable individual and is the type of information that is useful in making employment decisions. Exemption (c) does not, however, automatically render all resumes exempt in their entirety. The statutory exemptions are narrowly construed and are not blanket in nature.
The Public Records Law requires a case-by-case analysis of the applicability of its
Specifically, any relevant degrees and certifications listed on an employee’s resume may be subject to disclosure upon request. Public employees have a diminished expectation of privacy in matters relating to their public employment and the public has a legitimate interest in knowing whether public employees possess the qualifications necessary to perform their jobs.