Records of complaint relating to investigations of public employees/officials
Q: One of my employees filed a sexual harassment complaint with the LA DWP against me and several of my coworkers. I asked for a copy of the complaint. I was told that DWP does not like to give the complaint before the investigation. The investigation found no basis for the claim. Now, when I ask for a copy of the complaint, the LA DWP EEOS either refuses to answer my request or says that I need to make the request under CPRA. Am I correct in my belief that I have a right to know exactly what charges have been leveled against me? Do I have a right to a copy of the complaint?
A: With regard to records of complaints relating to investigations of misconduct by public employees or officials, California courts have held that there is a strong public policy against disclosure of such records if the investigation revealed that the charges were groundless. (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees v. Regents of the University of California, 80 Cal. App. 3d 913, 918 (1978)) However, “where the charges are found true, or discipline is imposed, the strong public policy against disclosure vanishes. . . .” (Id.) According to the information in your submission, the charges against you were found to be groundless, which may be a reason for why they are not disclosing these records to you.
On the other hand, the privacy that is being protected is your own. Thus, I suggest that you submit a CPRA request for copies of such documents. It sounds like the agency is also suggesting that you submit such request. Under the CPRA, if the agency denies disclosure of the documents you seek, it is required to cite to a particular provision of the CPRA or other law in which it relies to prevent disclosure.