Freedom of Information Act Manual - National Labor ?· 2016-04-22 · Freedom of . Information Act .…

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  • NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD

    Freedom of Information Act

    Manual

    March 2008

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  • Table of ContentsI. Purpose of Manual.......................................................... 1 II. Introduction .................................................................... 1 III. Related Statutes ........................................................... 1 A. The Privacy Act......................................................... 1 1. Privacy Act Requirements and Impact ................ 1 a. Privacy Act Requirements........................... 1 b. Privacy Act Impact on Requests for Documents..................................................... 3 2. Rules to Follow ................................................... 4 B. The Federal Records Act .......................................... 5 IV. Agency Records and Electronic FOIA ......................... 1 A. Agency Records Subject to Potential Disclosure...... 1 1. Control Test .......................................................... 1 2. Personal Records ................................................ 2 3. E-Mails as Agency Records ................................. 5 B. E-Mail Policy ............................................................ 5 C. Retrieving and Disclosing Electronic Documents .... 7 D. Electronic Reading Room........................................ 8 V. Application of FOIA Privileges....................................... 1 VI. Exemption 2 ................................................................ 1 VII. Exemption 4 ................................................................ 1 A. Trade Secret Defined................................................ 2 B. Commercial or Financial Information Defined........... 2 C. Determining Whether Information is Confidential

    the Distinction Between Voluntarily Submitted Information and Compelled Information ....................... 3

    D. The Test for Compelled Information.......................... 4 E. The Test for Voluntarily Submitted Information ......... 5 F. Reverse FOIA Litigation ............................................ 6 G. Procedure to Follow Where Exemption 4 Arguably

    Applies ....................................................................... 7

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  • H. Road Map to Processing Information Arguably Covered by Exemption 4............................................... 9

    VIII. Exemption 5 .............................................................. 1 A. Threshold Question of the Applicability of Exemption 5 ................................................................. 1 B. Document is Normally Privileged in the Civil

    Discovery Context........................................................ 4 1. Attorney Work-Product Privilege ......................... 4 2. Deliberative Process Privilege ............................ 7 a. Document Must Be Predecisional............... 8 b. Document Must be Deliberative................ 11 c. Segregation of Factual Material ................ 12 d. Examples of Documents Protected by Deliberative Process Privilege ...................... 13 e. Advice Memoranda, GC Minutes, and the General Counsels GC and OM Memoranda................................................... 15 3. Attorney-Client Privilege.................................... 17 IX. Exemption 6 ................................................................ 1 A. Summary of Exemption 6 Analysis .......................... 1 B. Privacy Interests ...................................................... 2 1. Summary of Types of Parties Privacy Interests.. 4 2. Examples of Privacy Interests............................. 4 3. Excelsior Lists, Authorization Cards and Documents Indicating Union Support...................... 5 4. Privacy Interests Relating to Job Performance and Other Personnel Matters................................... 7 5. Other Privacy Interests........................................ 8 C. Analytical Approach of Supreme Court in Reporters

    Committee..................................................................... 9 1. Identity of Requester and Specific Purpose of Requester are Generally Irrelevant .......................... 9 2. Public Interest is Narrowly Defined.................... 9 3. Establishment of Practical Obscurity Standard 10 4. Categorical Balancing is Permissible Under Certain Circumstances........................................... 11 D. Derivative Uses of the Disclosed Documents

    Should Not Be Considered In Determining Public Interest ..................................................................... 11

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  • E. Glomar Responses to Protect Privacy.................... 13 X. The Glomar Principle: When to Neither Confirm nor

    Deny the Existence of Documents ................................ 1 XI. Exemption 7 ................................................................. 1 1. Definition of Law Enforcement Purpose............... 1 2. Applicability of Exemption 7 to Both Unfair Labor Practice Cases and Representation Cases ............. 3 3. Treatment of Representation Proceedings by Various Circuit Courts .............................................. 4 B. Exemption 7(A) (Open Cases).................................. 6 1. Temporal Nature of Exemption 7(A)..................... 6 2. Need to Articulate Potential Harm if Information is Disclosed.............................................................. 7 3. FOIA Is Not A Discovery Tool ............................... 8 4. Compliance Cases............................................... 9 5. Summary............................................................ 10 C. Exemption 7(C)....................................................... 10 D. Exemption 7(D)...................................................... 15 1. Witness Confidentiality Assurances .................. 19 a. Express Assurances of Confidentiality...... 19 b. Implied Assurances of Confidentiality ....... 21 2. Exemption 7(D) Protection Is Rarely Waived.... 23 E. Exemption 7(E) ...................................................... 26 F. Exemption 7(F)....................................................... 28 1. Exemption 7(F) Standard ................................... 28 2. The Application of Exemption 7(F) to Any Individual............................................................... 29 3. Interplay Between 7(F), 7(C), and 7(D).............. 30 4. When to Claim 7(F)............................................ 30 5. Applicability of Glomar ....................................... 31 XII. First-Party Requesters ............................................... 1 A. General Principle: Treat All Requesters Alike .......... 1 B. First-Party Requester Exception.............................. 1 C. Analyzing Requests by First-Party Requesters ....... 3 D. First-Party Requester Fees ..................................... 3 XIII. Waiver ....................................................................... 1 A. Express Authorization .............................................. 2 B. Prior Disclosure of Requested Information .............. 3 1. General Consideration ........................................ 3

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  • 2. Prior Selective Disclosure .................................... 4 a. Voluntary & Official vs. Mistaken or

    Unauthorized.................................................. 4 b. Prior Disclosure to One Party Results in Unfairness to Another ..................................... 4 c. Prior disclosure Furthers Legitimate Governmental Purpose.................................. 5 d. Disclosure in Non-FOIA Litigation............... 6 3. Prior disclosure Under the FOIA .......................... 7 XIV. Section 102.118, Subpoenas, and the FOIA .............. 1 A. Section 102.118 (29 C.F.R. 102.118) ..................... 1 B. Subpoenas................................................................ 2 C. Relationship of Section 102.118 and Board and

    Judicial Subpoenas to the FOIA.................................... 4 XV. Fees and Fee Waivers Under the FOIA ...................... 1 A. Statutory Use Categories ....................................... 1 1. Commercial Use .................................................. 3 2. Educational, Noncommercial Scientific Institutions, and Representatives of the News Media ................. 4 a. Educational Institutions............................... 4 b. Representatives of the News Media ........... 6 3. All Other Requesters............................................ 9 B. Imposition of Fees .................................................... 9 1. Limitations on the Imposition of Fees................... 9 2. Chargeable Fees by the Board .......................... 10 a. Commercial Requesters (Assessed Full Costs of Search, Review and Duplication).. 10 b. News Media and Educational Institution Requesters (Free Search and Review; 100 free pages).................................................... 12 c. All Other Requesters (Two Free Hours of Search; Free Review; 100 Free Pages) ...... 12 3. Schedule of Charges ......................................... 13 C. Principles of General Applicability .......................... 14 1. Assumption of Liability for Fees ......................... 15 2. Interest ............................................................... 15 3. Advance Payments ............................................ 16 4. Estimating Costs ................................................ 17 5. Aggregation of Requests.................................... 17

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  • D. Fee Waiver and Fee Reduction .............................. 18 1. Fee Waiver Standard ........................................ 19 a. Whether disclosure of the information is in the public interest...................................... 21 b. Whether disclosure of information is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester ..................................................... 26 E. Appeals of Fee-Related Issues............................... 30 1. Review of fee category determination................ 30 2. Review of fee waiver determination ................... 31 Key Points to Remember ............................................ 32 XVI. Processing FOIA Requests....................................... 1 A. Beginning the Procedural Process ........................... 1 B. Intake Issues............................................................. 2 1. Is it a Proper FOIA Request? ............................... 2 2. How are Requests for Reading Room Documents Treated?................................................ 3 3. What are the Time Limits for Our Response? ...... 5 4. Expedited Processing .......................................... 8 C. Processing the FOIA Request ............................... 10 1. What Do I put in the FOIA File? ........................ 10 D. What Constitutes a Proper FOIA Search?.............. 15 1. Generally............................................................ 15 2. Identifying the Scope of the Request (Determining What Records are Responsive)....... 17 3. The Search for Responsive Records ................. 19 a. How to Conduct a Search......................... 19 b. How to Organize Documents Retrieved During the Search......................................... 21 E. How To Prepare Documents for Release................ 23 1. Generally........................................................... 23 2. The FOIA Processors Working Copy ................ 24 3. The Final Copy for Release ............................... 26 4. Pointers on Redactions...................................... 26 F. What Charges Are Assessed to the Requester? ..... 28 XVII. The Agencys Release Policies ................................. 1 A. General Release Policy ........................................... 1 B. Discretionary Disclosure Policy ............................... 2

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  • APPENDIX Overview of the FOIA ........................................................ 1 Agency Document Index.................................................... 1 Sample Language for Letters ............................................ 1 A. Procedural Issues .................................................... 1 B. Exemption 2............................................................. 8 C. Exemption 4........................................................... 11 D. Exemption 5........................................................... 18 E. Exemption 6........................................................... 23 F. Exemption 7 ........................................................... 24 G. Fees and Fee Waivers........................................... 30 Contact Headquarters........................................................ 1 Table of Cases ................................................................... 1

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  • C H A P T E R 1 , P U R P O S E O F M A N U A L

    1

    I. Purpose of Manual This manual has been prepared, as updated, by the General Counsel to furnish guidance

    to Agency employees in making determinations concerning the public release of Agency records

    under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as amended,1 and in litigating FOIA-based

    lawsuits. The Manual provides a basic review of the FOIA and its exemptions, as well as

    operational guidance on how to process a FOIA requestincluding threshold procedural issues,

    case assignment, creation of a FOIA Docket and File, search procedures, preparation of

    responsive documents for release, and assessment of charges.

    This Manual does not constitute a final determination by the General Counsel or the

    Board concerning the availability of any document; nor does it create legally binding obligations

    to release or withhold documents. Similarly, these guidelines are not intended to be and should

    not be viewed as binding procedural rules; nor should they be construed as creating any legally

    enforceable rights on the part of FOIA requesters. This manual is offered solely for the

    convenience and assistance of Agency employees who are called upon to process and litigate

    FOIA requests.

    All requests should be viewed as potentially raising issues that will be raised on appeal or

    in litigation. Accordingly, while strict compliance with these guidelines is not always necessary

    or possible, in all cases the processing office should have a sys...

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