FOIA Advisor

Q&A: may Dep't of Labor withhold names and addresses of physicians?

Q&A (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Q.  I just received a response from the DOL Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation in which it denied releasing the names and address of doctors performing impairment evaluations of former employees.  I understand that the names and address information of the former employees would remain private.  In this case, aren’t the doctors acting as contractors for the agency?  And it’s not their personal information but their business addresses that are at issue.

A.  I assume that DOL cited Exemption 6 of the FOIA (personal privacy) as the basis for withholding the records you requested.  Balancing the privacy interests of individuals against the public interest in disclosure can be a challenging process and reasonable individuals can disagree about the outcome even when the facts are undisputed.  Having said that, I can tell you that at least one district court has decided in favor of DOL in a case involving the identifying information of examining physicians   See Brown v. Perez (D. Colo. 2014).  I hope this is helpful.