Public Employee Email Addresses

A recent Commonwealth Court decision, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education v. The Fairness Center, upheld a decision by the Office of Open Records that agency-issued e-mail addresses held out to the public must be released in response to a Right-to-Know request, but that any agency-issued e-mail addresses not held out to the public may be withheld.

In the unreported decision, the Court held that:

“On appeal, PASSHE argues that agency-issued e-mail addresses for its faculty and coaches are all personal and not subject to disclosure, regardless of whether those addresses are primary or secondary in nature. To the contrary, we conclude that the OOR correctly determined that the e-mail addresses at issue could be divided into two categories: those e-mail addresses that were not held out to the public or publically accessible and those that were held out to the public as places where faculty and coaches could be contacted.

“As OOR held and consistent with our case law applying the personal identification information exemption to agency-issued e-mail addresses, we agree with that differentiation and with OOR’s determination that the former type of e-mail addresses should be protected from disclosure and the latter should be subject to disclosure.”

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