Public Records Act Exemptions

The Legislature passed a bill in 2023 that amends RCW 42.56.250 of the Public Records Act to create a new public records exemption regarding information about certain employees:

  • Category A [RCW 42.56.250(1)(i)(i)(A)]:

    • Applies to: Employees and dependents of employees affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual abuse, stalking, or harassment
      Action: The employee must sign a sworn statement, which the employer’s director or the director’s designee must verify
    • Note: The statement expires after two years, but can be renewed by providing a new sworn statement to the employees’ employer

  • Category B [RCW 42.56.250(1)(i)(i)(B]:

    • Applies to: Employees who participate in, or have a dependent who participates in, the Secretary of State’s Address Confidentiality Program (ACP)
    • Action:Provide proof to the employer of ACP participation

Although this protection does not apply to requests from news media entities, it is still an important step in safeguarding information about these employees.

DRS frequently receives very broad public records requests, such as requests for information about every member of a DRS-administered retirement system. When we receive these requests, we notify affected employers and ask them to notify their employees.

It is important for DRS to know about affected employees so that we can provide appropriate protections in the event of public records requests. Knowing in advance about employees who qualify for this protection helps us to ensure that everyone who is entitled to the protection will receive it. For that reason, we are asking employers to do the following for employees affected by the changes to the Public Records Act cited above:

  • For State Agencies that report data to DRS through HRMS: Check the redaction indicator in HRMS
  • For all other employers who do not use HRMS to report data to DRS (employers such as cities, counties, and school districts): Contact DRS by email at drs.exemptionnotice@drs.wa.gov to give us the employee’s name and let us know that they qualify for this protection. For employees who qualify for the Category A exemption, please also provide the date of the employee’s sworn statement, because these statements expire after two years.
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