Posted on Jun 26, 2015 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. F15-04
June 26, 2015
Names of Officers Terminated for Failed Drug Test

Requester asked whether the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) properly denied its request under Part II of the UIPA for the names of two officers discharged from HPD for failing HPD’s drug test.

OIP found that because drug test information is confidential by law, the identity of a government employee who has failed a drug test may be withheld even when the employee was terminated for failing the test.  HRS § 92F-13(4) (2012); Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs § 2.6(h), 59 FR 29908, 29924 (June 9, 1994); HRS § 329B-6 (2010).

The UIPA recognizes confidentiality laws found in other parts of the Hawaii Revised Statutes and allows an agency to withhold government records “which, pursuant to state or federal law . . . are protected from disclosure.”  HRS § 92F-13(4) (2012).  Although HPD did not raise this as a basis for withholding the officers’ names, OIP takes notice of chapter 329B, HRS, Substance Abuse Testing, which sets uniform standards for substance abuse testing and is intended to (among other things) “protect the privacy rights of persons tested.”

OIP found that HPD’s decision to withhold the officers’ names and provide the reason for their termination was reasonable under the circumstances, and balanced the competing legislative intents to provide information about the terminated officers to the extent possible without actually violating the applicable confidentiality laws.

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