Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Court of Appeal Limits Exposure of Retirees' Private Information

In Sonoma County Employees’ Retirement Association v. Superior Court (August 26, 2011, A130659) 2011 WL 3795212, the Court of Appeal found Sonoma County’s retirement system did not have to disclose the ages of retirees. The case is the latest in a series of cases where newspapers have used the Public Records Act to identity retirees by name and pension amount. In reaching its decision, the Court focused on language exempting “individual records of members” from disclosure. The retirement system argued this language protected retirees' names, but the Court found the public’s interest in knowing the names and pension amounts of retirees outweighed their privacy interests. However, the court drew the line at disclosure of the retirees' ages, finding retirees' dates of birth and ages at retirement are protected from disclosure under the statute.