Posted on Oct 29, 2001 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 01-04
October 29, 2001
Disclosure of Sexual Harassment Complaint Investigation Records

The Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii (“RCUH”) administers research projects for the University of Hawaii. During one project, an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint was filed alleging sexual harassment.

After investigating the complaint, the RCUH wrote a Closing Report and issued two formal letters of determination (“investigative records”) to the subject of the complaint (“Subject”) and to the complainant. The letters stated that the RCUH found that there was no evidence to support a breach of the RCUH Sexual Harassment policy or EEO policy, and that the case was closed.

The Subject asked the RCUH for copies of the investigative records pertaining to the sexual harassment claim filed against him. The RCUH asked the OIP for an opinion on whether the letter to the complainant and the RCUH’s Closing Report for the case must be disclosed to the Subject.

The OIP noted that the UIPA requires that personal record requesters be given access to their personal records, subject to the exemptions set forth at section 92F-22, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

The OIP advised the RCUH that the investigative records must be disclosed to the Subject of the complaint, except for information that may be withheld from disclosure under section 92F-22(2), Hawaii Revised Statutes. Among other things, this section allows agencies to withhold records or information the disclosure of which would reveal the identity of a source who furnished information under an express or implied promise of confidentiality.

Normally, section 92F-22(2), Hawaii Revised Statutes, protects only witness names, and not the information provided by that source. In this instance, however, because the witness came from a small group of people who worked closely together, disclosure of the information provided by a witness would likely lead to the identification of that witness.

Therefore, redaction of the witness statements, and other information that would allow identification of witnesses in other sections of the RCUH’s Closing Report, is warranted in order to protect their identities.

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