A Freedom of Information Law request was submitted to a town board seeking the names of all applicants requesting for appointment to the Master Plan Comprehensive Committee. The town denied the request, asserting that it was an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The NY Committee on Open Government opined that there is a distinction in the effects of disclosure between situations in which persons apply for employment and those in which they volunteer to serve in uncompensated positions. Disclosure of applications of employment would, in fact, constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy, inasmuch as the applicant’s employer may not be aware that such employee is seeking other employment and learning of such could lead to retribution. Such retribution is unlikely when a person seeks to volunteer to be appointed to an unpaid position on a committee. Therefore, although certain personal information regarding the applicants for voluntary committees may be withheld, the names of such persons must be disclosed.
NYS Committee on Open Government, FOIL – AO – 17478 (1/2/2009)