The Third Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Garry, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined the request for the zip codes association with the residences of state employees should not have been granted on invasion-of-privacy grounds. The court noted that the employees’ full addresses could easily be determined by using the Internet to search for the person by name along with the related zip code:
As to special protections for state employee records, the Legislature’s enactment of Public Officers Law § 89 (7) indicates its desire to protect public employees from harassment at home. That statute provides that “[n]othing in [FOIL] shall require the disclosure of the home address of an officer or employee” of the state … . Moreover, by executive order the Governor has prohibited state agencies from disclosing state employees’ home addresses except when “compelled . . . by lawful service of process, subpoena, court order, or as otherwise required by law” … . These policy goals are relevant to the interests in protecting the personal privacy of government employees.
The scenario of numerous — or perhaps most — state employees being contacted at home by a private individual or organization that knows who they are, where they live and what they do for a living seems likely to be offensive and objectionable to most reasonable people … . Thus, release of home zip codes would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under these circumstances. Accordingly, as respondent met its burden of proving that the requested zip codes are exempt from disclosure under FOIL, Supreme Court erred in ordering the disclosure of such data. Matter of Suhr v New York State Dept. of Civ. Serv., 2021 NY Slip Op 01113, Third Dept 2-18-21