Justia Oklahoma Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Communications Law
The Oklahoma Publishing Company (The Oklahoman) and World Publishing Company (Tulsa World) (collectively, Publishers), filed open records requests with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of State Finance (OSF). Both the Oklahoman and Tulsa World sought to release of birth dates of all state employees. In addition, the Tulsa World requested employee identification numbers. The Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA) filed two suits against OPM and OSF requesting declaratory judgment and injunctive relief to bar the release of employees' birth dates. The second suit also sought to bar employee identification numbers from disclosure. The district court consolidated the cases. All parties filed motions for summary judgment. Relying on an opinion of the Oklahoma Attorney General, the trial court sustained OPEA's and OPM's motions. It ordered that the state agencies be given sixty days’ notice to report their decisions on whether disclosure of date of birth requests would be a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy; whether public access could be denied to employee identification numbers; and that legislative staff records were exempt from disclosure under the Oklahoma Open Records Act. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that Oklahoma law already contains a non-exclusive list of examples of information that if released, would constitute an unwarranted invasion of State employees' personal privacy. As guidance, the Court held that where a claim of invasion of privacy is made, courts should use a case-by-case balancing test to determine whether personal information is subject to release. If significant privacy interests are at stake while the public's interest in the disclosed information is minimal, release of that information "would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." View "Oklahoma Publishing Co. v. Oklahoma" on Justia Law