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Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania
November 14, 2012, Argued; December 14, 2012, Decided; December 14, 2012, Filed
No. 154 C.D. 2012
[*126] OPINION BY JUDGE COVEY
PG Publishing Company d.b.a. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Jonathan Silver (collectively, Gazette) appeal from the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court's (trial court) January 25, 2012 order affirming the Final Order of the Office of Open Records (OOR) affirming Wilkinsburg Borough's (Borough) decision to grant limited access to an employment termination letter, thereby redacting all information contained in the letter except the employment termination language itself and that the employee had been given notice of said employment termination. There are two issues before this Court: (1) whether Section 708(b)(7)(viii) of the [**2] Right-To-Know Law (RTKL),1 which requires production of a final action, means the entire employment termination letter which contains prior disciplinary action or only the employment termination language and notice given to the employee, and (2) whether the Borough waived its argument that the employment termination letter was not a final action. We affirm.
On August 2, 2011, the Gazette submitted a request under the RTKL to the Borough seeking, among other items, a former Borough employee's employment termination letter. The Borough produced [*127] a redacted copy of the employment termination letter. The Gazette appealed to the OOR, which issued a Final Determination affirming the Borough's decision to grant limited access to the employment termination letter. The Gazette appealed to the trial court. The trial court reviewed the unredacted employment termination letter in camera and determined that the redacted material related to previous disciplinary action. On January 25, 2012, the trial court affirmed the OOR's Final Determination. The Gazette appealed to this Court.2
The Gazette first argues that the exception within the general exemption of Section 708(b)(7)(viii) of the RTKL, related to the final action of an agency resulting in an employee's demotion or discharge, requires production of the complete final action which in this case the Gazette contends is the entire employment termination letter. Specifically, the Gazette contends that although Section 708(b)(7)(viii) of the RTKL exempts information relating to an agency employee's discipline, demotion or discharge, the second sentence of Section 708(b)(7)(viii) of the RTKL specifically states an exception for a final action of an agency that results in demotion or discharge. Consequently, the Gazette avers, because an employment termination letter is a final action resulting in discharge, the entire letter should have been produced. We disagree.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
58 A.3d 125 *; 2012 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 332 **
Jonathan Silver and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Appellants v. Borough of Wilkinsburg
Subsequent History: Appeal denied by Silver v. Borough of Wilkinsburg, 2013 Pa. LEXIS 2250 (Pa., Oct. 3, 2013)
Prior History: [**1] Appealed from No. SA-11-001115. Common Pleas Court of the County of Allegheny. O'Brien, A.J.
termination of employment, final action, exemption, redacted, demotion, discipline, trial court, disclosure, disciplinary action, personnel file, subparagraph, contends
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