April 7, 1993





IN RE: Beulah Bonnie Irwin/Kentucky Labor Cabinet






This matter comes to the Attorney General on appeal from the actions of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet relative to Ms. Beulah Bonnie Irwin's March 2, 1993, request for copies of "ALL Doctuments [sic] concerning [her] case with Dr. Khalid Iqbal . . . ." in the investigative files of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, Division of Employment Standards and Mediation. On behalf of the Labor Cabinet, Ms. Margaret Goodlett Miles partially denied Ms. Irwin's request. Although Ms. Miles released most of the documents in the file, she withheld employee interview statements and a letter from Paul Wesley Accounting. Relying on KRS 61.878(1)(j), now codified and hereinafter referred to as KRS 61.878(1)(k), she indicated that the employee interview statements contained in the file are exempt from public inspection. Ms. Miles subsequently advised this Office that her denial was based on KRS 337.345, relating to the confidentiality of records generated in the course of investigations into complaints filed under the state's wage and hours laws. Her denial of Ms. Irwin's request for the letter from Paul Wesley Accounting was based on KRS 61.878(1)(h), misidentified as KRS 61.878(6), relating to correspondence with private individuals.


We are asked to determine if the Labor Cabinet's partial denial of Ms. Irwin's request violated the Open Records

Act. For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that the Cabinet's actions were consistent with the Act.


KRS 61.878(1)(k) excludes from the mandatory disclosure provisions of the Open Records Act:


Public records or information the disclosure of which is prohibited or restricted or otherwise made confidential by enactment of General Assembly.


This provision operates in tandem with KRS 337.345 to prohibit disclosure, with certain limited exceptions, of "information secured from inspection of the records, or from the transcriptions thereof, or from inspection of the employer's premises by the secretary or his authorized representa-

tive . . ." in the course of investigating a complaint filed under the wage and hour laws. Although there appear to be no

prior opinions of this Office which are on point, we believe that this prohibition on release of information extends to employee interview statements inasmuch as these statements were almost certainly taken during an inspection of the employer's premises. We therefore find that the Labor Cabinet properly denied that portion of Ms. Irwin's request.


With respect to Ms. Irwin's request to inspect a letter from Paul Wesley Accounting to the Labor Cabinet relative to her complaint against Dr. Iqbal, we hold that the Cabinet properly withheld this record pursuant to KRS 61.878(1)(h). That exception authorizes nondisclosure of:


Preliminary drafts, notes, correspondence with private individuals, other than correspondence which is intended to give notice of final action of a public agency[.]


Ms. Miles explains that Paul Wesley Accounting is a private accounting firm which oversees the payroll for Dr. Iqbal's office. The disputed letter contains details relating to four other employees in the office, as well as Dr. Iqbal's vacation pay policy. It is addressed to the investigator in the case, and is signed by Paul Wesley.


In our view, this letter falls squarely within the parameters of KRS 61.878(1)(h), since it clearly constitutes correspondence with a private individual and is in no way intended to give notice of final action of a public agency. Compare, OAG 90-7 (holding that the letter of a corporate contractor under a public contract, involving administration of that contract, cannot be properly characterized as correspondence with a private individual). We therefore

conclude that the Labor Cabinet properly denied that portion of Ms. Irwin's request relating to the letter submitted by Paul Wesley Accounting to the investigator in her case.


Ms. Irwin may challenge this decision by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court pursuant to KRS 61.880(5) and KRS 61.882.












Distributed to:


Ms. Margaret Goodlett Miles

Kentucky Labor Cabinet

1049 U.S. 127 South

Frankfort, KY 40601



Ms. Beulah Bonnie Irwin

Route 1, Box 238

Monticello, KY 42633