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A California Superior Court Judge Has Ruled That CalPERS Disability Status is Protected
November 20, 2019
A Sacramento County Superior Court judge has ruled that CalPERS does not have to disclose retirees’ disability status, siding with the pension fund and four unions that defended a Transparent California lawsuit seeking the information. CalPERS and the unions argued that disclosing disability status, which has its origins in medical records, would represent an unwarranted invasion of privacy. Their attorneys said disclosing the information could lead to harassment, bullying and attempts at “vigilante justice” from people attempting to draw their own conclusions about whether or not a given retired public employee is legitimately disabled.
Superior Court Judge Laurie Earl agreed that the disability status constitutes medical information, but did not rule that retirees’ expectation of privacy regarding disability status outweighs the public’s right to know how the government spends money. Instead, Judge Earl ruled other sections of California law protect the disability status information. The Judge ruled that state law, as interpreted in several appellate rulings, protects information that CalPERS members voluntarily submit to the pension fund, along with their benefit elections.