U Memo 22-06

Posted on Jun 30, 2022 in Informal Opinions - UIPA Opinions

U Memo 22-06
June 30, 2022
Employee Misconduct Records During Pending Investigations

Requester was employed by the City and County of Honolulu, Department of Transportation Services (TRANS-HON) and filed a misconduct complaint against another TRANS-HON employee with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office (EOO-HON).  TRANS-HON terminated the employee accused of misconduct via written letter dated December 15, 2017.

Requester sought access to records from TRANS-HON and EOO-HON regarding the allegations in the EOO-HON complaint.  Both agencies denied access because their investigations were ongoing.  Requester filed separate appeals against the two agencies, which OIP addressed in a single opinion.

OIP analyzed the request as one for joint personal records under Part III of the UIPA, which provides that agencies may withhold reports and related materials for “upcoming, ongoing, or pending” investigations.”  Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 92F-22(4) (2012).  Because the agencies were investigating the misconduct when the request was made, OIP upheld the two agencies’ denial of records.   OIP also analyzed the case under Part II and concluded that the investigative reports may be kept confidential to “avoid the frustration of a legitimate government function.” HRS § 92F-13(3) (2012).

OIP further found that TRANS-HON’s termination letter dated December 15, 2017 must be disclosed with redactions pursuant to section 92F-12(a)(14), HRS, as employees’ first and last dates of employment are public (absent any UIPA law to the contrary).  The redactions include the employee’s personal address because disclosure would be “an unwarranted invasion of individual privacy” under section 92F-13(1), HRS, and two sentences in the letter referring to the ongoing investigation, pursuant to sections 92F-22(4) and 92F-13(3), HRS.