AG tells state agencies the burden is on them to prove disclosure of employee DOB is clearly an unwarranted invasion of privacy

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson told state agencies, boards and commissions this week that the birth dates of their employees are presumed to be public records and should be released upon request.

"The only exception ... would be if the agency makes a specific finding that the release of the record would constitute a 'clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,'" Edmondson said in a letter telling the agencies of his revised formal opinion on the subject.

"If the exception is claimed the burden would be on the agency to demonstrate that the employee's personal privacy interest outweighs the public interest in producing the record," Edmondson said.

If a court overturns that determination, the agency would be liable for the plaintiff's attorney fees, he reminded agency officials.

(Unfortunately, that monetary penalty might not motivate many public officials to give serious weight to the public's interest because the money comes from taxpayers, not their own pockets.)

Edmondson also told agencies they could not enact blanket policies under which all employee birth dates would be considered private.

In a press release Tuesday, Edmondson said the new opinion "revised some admittedly confusing language."

For more on the revised opinion, 2009 OK AG 33, read the earlier posting on this blog.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.