From the Times-Mail (Bedford):

Q: In September, I filed open records requests with the city of Mitchell and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after learning Mitchell Police Officer Britni Webster filed a complaint with the commission regarding her employment with the city.

The response I received from the commission cites, “The disclosure of files to non-party requesters is an invasion of personal privacy.” Is the Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission correct?

A: Yes. Unfortun­ately, the federal Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act contains a provision that allows confidentiality to avoid an “unwarranted invasion of privacy.” Thankfully, this has not been added to Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act.

The rationale behind the argument is to protect the individuals being accused of violating the complainant’s rights until an investigation uncovered evidence that would bring a charge against the accused.

This protects people’s reputations from unwarranted complaints.

I know of nothing that prevents the complainant from sharing her allegations, although her attorney might advise her to keep quiet at this point in the process.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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