Appellate Division Rejects Another OPRA Requestor Assault On Government Employees’ Personal Privacy

Some requestors attempt to use OPRA to evade basic notions of privacy and gain access to personal information held by the government. This post from early 2017 discusses how public bodies frequently must defend OPRA litigation seeking disclosure of clearly private information. A recent Appellate Division case presents yet another example of this.

In Wolosky v. Boro of Washington, the requestor sought the municipal clerk’s 2015 payroll record. The Boro provided this document, redacting the deductions for pension contributions, pension loan payments and health insurance payments. The Appellate Division upheld this decision, because the redacted material is exempt personnel information.

The requestor also argued that the employee’s privacy interest in the withheld information should not block disclosure. The Appellate Division agreed with the trial judge’s rejection of this claim. The trial judge said that any public interest in disclosure of how much money the employee contributes for her health insurance and pension is “heavily outweighed” by her expectation of privacy in this information.


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