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Privacy rights Rhode Island

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  • Privacy rights Rhode Island

    I'm a municipal employee whom received a suspension as well as disciplinary letter outlining stipulations for my continued employment and was to be put in my personnel file. The letter was given to the local paper, by management, which printed it's content - without my knowledge or permission. What recourse is there and any statute of limitations?

  • #2
    Why do you think the letter was given to the newspaper? Are you in a position where the type of violation was something the public had a right to know?
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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    • #3
      The newspaper could have obtained it by filing a Freedom of Information Act request. What is your position with the municipality, and what were you disciplined for? It makes a difference.
      I am not an attorney, and don't play one on TV. Any information given is a description only and should be verified by your attorney.

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      • #4
        privacy rights RI

        I don't know but can only speculate, the violation itself was public knowledge. I thought items in and for personnel files were not to be released to the public without consent.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ajcw View Post
          I thought items in and for personnel files were not to be released to the public without consent.
          There is no such general federal rule. There could be individual items which some type of legal issue attaches. Certain medical information has legal confidentiality for example.

          Maybe RI has such a rule. Maybe your civil service has such a rule. Maybe a lot of things.

          There is a general rule associated with libel/slander law (not specific to employers or personnel files) that anyone can legally say anything that they believe to be true. Sometimes called the "Absence of Malice" rule.
          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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          • #6
            privacy rights ri

            I'm the manager of a department... the disciplinary letter was a result of a disciplinary hearing held in executive session for a possible ethics violation but no advisory was sought. No request via the Freedom of Information act was requested - the letter was hand delivered to paper by a supervisor - before I even received it. It was confirmed by the supervisor when I asked. Our Union said it was a civil suit and not grievable?

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            • #7
              FOIA means that a private party is requesting that information the government wants to keep quiet be released. There is no rule that says the government cannot release information until/unless a FOIA request occurs. Unless you can find a very specific law being violated, then no law has been violated. FIOA has certainly not been violated based on what you have said. This is not a FIOA issue based on what you have said.
              "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
              Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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              • #8
                Most states have some kind of FOIA (in Georgia is the Open Records Act) and if you work in that municipality virtually all your employment information including salary and disicipline can be requested and must legally be released.

                If there is an investigation, documents may not be released until the investigation is completed. In Georgia its 10 days after the investigation ends.

                If these were obtained by the paper in a correct manner, you have no legal recorse.

                Check with the records secretary, City or County Clerk or HR. Any of them may be the point of contact for FOIA (or whatever its called in your state) regulations.
                I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
                Thomas Jefferson

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                • #9
                  Privacy rights

                  Thank you for the responses... I guess the issue is the way the information was released - I did not think it would be legal for a document for a personnel file be released without a FOIA request, and without consent or notice of the employee... "I gave it to them because they asked" is a bit ridiculous - what is the point of a personnel file?

                  Thanks again!

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                  • #10
                    The employee does not have to give consent. That is not required.

                    If it was requested, thats all thats needed. You need to become more familiar with your state's FOIA.
                    I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
                    Thomas Jefferson

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