Mitchell v. Human Services Administrator
Because records were improperly withheld during the pendency of a workplace violence investigation, they were not promptly provided as required by C.G.S. §1-210(a) and §1-212(a). Herbert Mitchell appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the respondents, the State of Connecticut, Department of Veterans' Affairs and its Human Services Administrator, violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to comply with his Aug. 2011 resubmitted request for records clarified as a request for Mitchell's personnel file. The respondents provided certain records from the file in Sept. 2011, but withheld other records concerning an ongoing workplace violence investigation. In Jan. 2012, the respondents hand delivered those records to the complainant's union representative. At the hearing, the complainant argued that the respondents failed to provide him with copies of the investigation records because they were not handed to him directly. The FOIC found that the complainant made no showing that his union representative withheld the records from him. The representative attended the hearing in support of the complainant and, under such circumstances, the FOIC found that the respondents did, in fact, provide the complainant with copies of the investigation records in Jan. 2012. However, the respondents improperly withheld the records during the pendency of the investigation. The respondents' stated position was that they withheld the records solely because their investigation was not complete and not because they believed the records were exempt from disclosure pursuant to any exemption in the FOIA or elsewhere in the general statutes. The improperly withheld records were not promptly provided to the complainant. The respondents violated the promptness provisions in C.G.S. §1-210(a) and §1-212(a) and were ordered to strictly comply, henceforth, with those provisions of the FOIA.