Rojas v. FAA, No. 16-03067, 2017 WL 5989359 (D. Ariz. Dec. 4, 2017) (Snow, J.)
Re: Requests for records concerning 2014 policy change for hiring Air Traffic Control Specialists
Disposition: Granting in part and denying in part defendant's motion for summary judgment
- Exemption 6: First, regarding defendant's withholding of "the subject of [certain] email[s], attachments in the email[s], carbon copied email addresses, case numbers, and the subject[s] of the complaint" in response to plaintiff’s request for a list of certain Equal Employment Opportunity cases, the court holds that "[t]he disclosure of subject lines, case numbers, and attachment titles will not likely allow [plaintiff] or any other observer to identify individual claimants." "Additionally, any potential privacy interest in the redacted portions is trivial at best, and as such, the Court does not address the public interest in obtaining this information." Second, the court finds that "[t]he government's blanket assertion that privacy interests precluded the full disclosure of [a] Report of Investigation is inadequate for the government to meet its burden for summary judgment." Third, regarding the withholding of documents concerning cheating allegations made against an employee, the court finds that "the public has an interest in knowing information about hiring officials who unfairly support specific job applicants, especially for positions that maintain public safety." Fourth, in response to a request for records concerning a letter to Congress, the court finds that "the government did not sufficiently show that it could not disclose any information without violating privacy interests." Lastly, the court also takes issue with other "perfunctory response[s]" to support withholdings.
- Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records: The court holds that defendant did not meet its burden regarding one search because it limited its search to one particular record system when other record systems could possible maintain responsive information.
- Exemption 7(C), Glomar: The court holds that "[t]he government justifiably responded to [certain] requests . . . with a Glomar response." "The accountability board handles allegations of misconduct concerning sexual harassment and discrimination." "Therefore, accountability board complaints and EEO complaints could lead to the employee's discipline or censure, and disclosing the existence of an accountability or EEO complaint would cause embarrassment." "Because [plaintiff] asked for information about specific government employees, any redactions would not protect the privacy interests of the named employees." "Lastly, it is not clear how such a disclosure of specific instances of sexual harassment or discrimination would shed significant light on FAA hiring policies or practices."