Notice to DRS Members – Public Records Request UPDATED

Posted 04-Dec-2019

Update: Under a temporary injunction issued by the Thurston County Superior Court on Dec. 27, 2019, DRS will not release any of the information about public employees that was requested by the Freedom Foundation in its Nov. 1, 2019 public records request as DRS is enjoined from doing so until after March 31. 2020. A copy of the order is available here.

The Department of Retirement Systems has received a public records request regarding information about members of the state’s retirement systems. The request asks for certain items of information “for each person currently employed by a public employer in Washington.”

The requesting organization is the Freedom Foundation. A copy of the request is available here.

DRS has identified which of the requested information items are subject to disclosure under the state’s Public Records Act and which are exempt.

Accordingly, the following information items for active members of all DRS retirement systems and plans will be released to the requesting organization on Jan. 3, 2020:

  • First name
  • Middle name
  • Last name
  • Employer
  • The retirement system in which they currently participate
  • Annual compensation

Additionally, birthdate information will be released to the requesting organization in accordance with the state Supreme Court’s decision in WPEA v. Freedom Foundation. The information will be released on Jan. 3 as follows:

  • For active members of TRS and SERS – Full date of birth (month/day/year)
  • For active members of all other systems, including LEOFF, PSERS, WSPRS and PERS – Day of birth only*

*Statutory exemptions for full date of birth remain in effect for employees in some job types, including those in criminal justice positions. Because DRS is not able to identify members by position, it can only release day of birth in systems where the exemptions may apply.

If you are the subject of a public records request, no action is required of you. If you want additional information or have questions about a request, please contact DRS at 844-704-6780 or drs.pdrnotice@drs.wa.gov.

A note about injunctive relief

DRS is often asked if individuals who are the subject of a records request can seek an injunction to prevent the release of their records.

Under RCW 42.56.540, an individual may seek an injunction in the superior court for the county where they reside, or in Thurston County Superior Court, if the release of records “would clearly not be in the public interest and would substantially and irreparably damage any person, or would substantially and irreparably damage vital governmental functions.”

To prevent the release of records in the current request, DRS would need to be served with an injunction by close of business no later than Jan. 2, 2020.

Whether to seek an injunction is a decision that must be made by each individual. State agencies cannot provide advice on this matter. Individuals should be aware that the superior courts may charge certain fees or costs for an injunction; they may want to obtain the advice of private counsel before deciding whether to pursue an injunction.

 


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