Provides that certain information shall be kept confidential and redacted or withheld from referees' hearings records or referees' decisions.
Ayes (60): Adams, Addabbo, Alesi, Aubertine, Bonacic, Breslin, DeFrancisco, Diaz, Dilan, Duane, Espada, Farley, Flanagan, Foley, Fuschillo, Golden, Griffo, Hannon, Huntley, Johnson C, Johnson O, Klein, Krueger, Kruger, Lanza, Larkin, LaValle, Leibell, Libous, Little, Marcellino, Maziarz, McDonald, Montgomery, Nozzolio, Onorato, Oppenheimer, Padavan, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Ranzenhofer, Robach, Saland, Sampson, Savino, Schneiderman, Serrano, Seward, Skelos, Smith, Squadron, Stachowski, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousins, Thompson, Valesky, Volker, Winner, Young
Excused (2): Hassell-Thomps, Morahan
BILL NUMBER: S7053
TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the labor law, in relation to protection of certain confidential information
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL : This bill would protect from disclosure certain confidential financial, medical, and personal information contained in the decisions and records of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (UIAB).
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS : Sections 1 and 2 of the bill would amend Labor Law §§ 620 and 622, respectively, to clarify certain protections of confidential information related to UIAB hearings and appeals.
Section 3 of the bill would provide for an immediate effective date.
EXISTING LAW : Labor Law §§ 620 and 622 relate to the conduct of UIAB hearings and appeals.
Labor Law § 620 sets forth requirements for the timing and subject matter of, procedures for, and appeals from referees' hearings.
Labor Law § 622 sets forth the rules governing hearings and appeals, including rules for the introduction of hearing evidence.
JUSTIFICATION : This bill would clarify and reinforce the confidentiality of certain personal information obtained by the UIAB, through its administration of the unemployment insurance program. In 1983, the Court of Appeals, in HERALD COMPANY v. WEISENBERG, 59 NY2d 378 (1983), held that unemployment insurance hearings could not be closed and copies of hearing transcripts could not be denied before news media had had an opportunity, in a proceeding, to object to the closure or denial or to demonstrate the magnitude of genuine public interest in the matter at issue.
While the Department of Labor supports the publication of UIAB decisions as a means of informing employers and claimants of the relevant law governing the conduct of hearings and the approval or disapproval of benefit payments, the HERALD COMPANY decision can lead to the disclosure of information from such hearings that is of a personal nature and adds nothing to the public's understanding of the legal underpinnings of the decision. Records in some hearings may reference instances of domestic abuse, claimant alcoholism or substance abuse, medical conditions faced by claimants or family members and other very personal information. Eliminating this information from decisions in a manner that is consistent with state statutes such as the Freedom of Information Law and the Personal Privacy Protection Act, as well as with federal regulations (i.e., 20 CFR Part 603 et seq.) that post-date the HERALD COMPANY decision and now govern the confidentiality of unemployment insurance information, will ensure the privacy of individual claimants while still allowing the release of the UIAB's decisions.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : This is a new proposal.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : This bill would have no fiscal impact.
EFFECTIVE DATE : This bill would take effect immediately upon enactment.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7053 IN SENATE March 9, 2010 ___________Introduced by Sen. ONORATO -- (at request of the Department of Labor) -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Labor AN ACT to amend the labor law, in relation to protection of certain confidential information THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivisions 1, 2 and 3 of section 620 of the labor law, subdivision 1 as amended by chapter 645 of the laws of 1951, paragraph (a) of subdivision 1 as amended by chapter 589 of the laws of 1998, subdivision 2 as amended by chapter 248 of the laws of 1991 and subdivi- sion 3 as added by chapter 705 of the laws of 1944, are amended to read as follows: 1. Disputed claims for benefits. (a) A claimant who is dissatisfied with an initial determination of his or her claim for benefits or any other party, including any employer whose employer account percentage might be affected by such determination may, within thirty days after the mailing or personal delivery of notice of such determination, request a hearing. The referee may extend the time fixed for requesting a hearing, upon evidence that the physical condition or mental incapaci- ty of the claimant prevented the claimant from filing an appeal within thirty days of the initial determination. Any employer whose employer account percentage might be affected by such determination, irrespective of whether or not such employer was a party to a hearing brought here- under, shall have
[free]access to all records of any hearing brought hereunder by any party relating to such determination, PROVIDED, HOWEV- ER, THAT THOSE RECORDS SHALL BE SUBJECT TO REDACTION OR SHALL BE WITH- HELD IN ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE FEDERAL OR STATE STATUTORY AND REGU- LATORY REQUIREMENTS GOVERNING INFORMATION CONFIDENTIALITY AND PERSONAL PRIVACY, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ARTICLE SIX AND ARTICLE SIX-A OF THE PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW. (b) When the initial determination of a claim for benefits, upon which a hearing has been requested, involves the question whether any person is or was an employer within the meaning of this article and is or wasEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD15963-01-0 S. 7053 2
liable for the payment of contributions under this article, or the ques- tion whether an employer has fully complied with the obligations imposed by this article, written notice of the hearing shall be given to such persons or employer, either personally or by mail, and thereupon he, SHE OR SUCH EMPLOYER shall be deemed a party to the proceeding, entitled to be heard. Upon such notice having been given, the referee may then decide such question or questions and any other issue related thereto, and his OR HER decision shall not be deemed limited in its effect to the immediate claimant making the claim for benefits but shall be deemed a general determination of such questions with respect to all those employed by such person or employer for all the purposes of this arti- cle, and such decision shall be conclusive and binding upon
[him]THE CLAIMANT AND SUCH PERSON OR EMPLOYER, subject, however, to the right to appeal hereinafter provided. 2. Contested determinations, rules, or orders. Any employer who claims to be aggrieved by the commissioner's determination of the amount of [its]THE EMPLOYER'S contributions or by any other rule or order of the commissioner under any provision of this article may apply to the commissioner for a hearing within thirty days after mailing or personal delivery of notice of such determination, rule, or order. 3. Decisions. Every hearing as herein provided for shall be held by a referee who shall render his OR HER decision within five days after the hearing is concluded. Written notice of the referee's decision, contain- ing the reasons therefor, shall be promptly given to the claimant or employer, to the commissioner, and to any party affected thereby who appeared at the hearing. PUBLICATION OF A REFEREE'S DECISION OR OF ANY APPEAL BOARD DECISION SHALL BE SUBJECT TO REDACTION OR SHALL BE WITHHELD IN ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE FEDERAL OR STATE STATUTORY AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS GOVERNING INFORMATION CONFIDENTIALITY AND PERSONAL PRIVACY, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ARTICLE SIX AND ARTICLE SIX-A OF THE PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW. The decision of a referee shall be deemed the decision of the appeal board from the date of the filing thereof in the department, unless an appeal is taken from such decision to the board in accordance with the provisions of this article or unless the board on its own motion or on application duly made to it modify or rescind such decision. S 2. Subdivision 2 of section 622 of the labor law, as added by chap- ter 705 of the laws of 1944, is amended to read as follows: 2. Evidence and procedure. At any hearing held as herein provided, evidence may be offered to support a determination, rule, or order or to prove that it is incorrect. The appeal board and the referees, in hear- ings and appeals under any provision of this article, shall not be bound by common law or statutory rules of evidence or by technical or formal rules of procedure but may conduct the hearings and appeals in such manner as to ascertain the substantial rights of the parties. HEARINGS GOVERNED BY THIS ARTICLE MAY BE CLOSED AND HEARING TRANSCRIPTS MAY BE REDACTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE FEDERAL OR STATE STATUTORY AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS GOVERNING INFORMATION CONFIDENTIALITY AND PERSONAL PRIVACY, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ARTICLE SIX AND ARTICLE SIX-A OF THE PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.