U Memo 19-6

Posted on Feb 1, 2019 in Informal Opinions - UIPA Opinions

U Memo 19-6
February 1, 2019
EEOC Complaints Filed against the City and County of Honolulu

Louis Kealoha and Katherine Kealoha (collectively Complainants) had filed complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the City of Honolulu (City) alleging discrimination by the Ethics Commission (ETHICS-HON) (Complaints).  The Complainants had provided copies of their Complaints to the Office of the Mayor, City and County of Honolulu (MAYOR-HON), apparently for information purposes only, since MAYOR-HON was not the subject of EEOC’s investigation. MAYOR-HON denied Requester’s request under Part II of the UIPA for access to copies of the Complaints, and Requester appealed to OIP.

MAYOR-HON asserted that it was authorized to withhold the records under the exceptions set forth in section 92F-13(2), (3), (4), HRS.  OIP found that the exception in section 92F-13(2), HRS, did not apply because the Complaints did not qualify for this exemption that only applies to records that are not discoverable under judicially recognized privileges.  OIP found that the “frustration of a legitimate government function” exception in section 92F-13(3), HRS, did not apply because, as OIP opined, disclosure of the Complaints would not frustrate any investigative functions when the Complaints were already provided or maintained by the subject of the investigation, namely the City.  Also, OIP found that the exemption in section 92F-13(4), HRS, which covers records protected by state or federal statute, did not apply because the federal regulations cited by MAYOR-HON required only the EEOC, not MAYOR-HON, to keep records confidential.  Finally, OIP found that the Complainants had waived their privacy interest in information in the Complaints that they had already intentionally disclosed to the news media, and also that other general information in the Complaint was public because the public interest outweighed the Complainants’ privacy interest.

Thus, OIP opined that none of the UIPA’s exceptions to public disclosure applied to allow MAYOR-HON to withhold the Complaints in their entireties.  Consequently, MAYOR-HON is required to publicly disclose the Complaints after redacting the passwords provided by EEOC for the City’s use when submitting its responses to the EEOC charges into EEOC’s online system, and the Complainants’ home addresses, telephone numbers, and birthdates.