University of California says statistics about graduate workers are protected by FERPA
Believing that women and older workers are discriminated against in hiring, the graduate student union at the University of California requested statistical data from the university. The students asked to see “the salary, total earnings, appointment and classification for employees hired in different departments,” according to The Daily Bruin. The university has denied the records request because providing such information would violate FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a spokeswoman told the paper.
Source: The Daily Bruin, Graduate student union suspects UC of discrimination. (Oct. 3, 2013)
SPLC Attorney Advocate Adam Goldstein: The information as requested is purely anonymous statistical data, so it’s not even a close enough call to make it dramatic; unless there are so few women hired by these departments that releasing the information would make the sole female employee identifiable, this isn’t even identifiable information.
(Note that, if this is the case, it’s possible someone has already noticed that there’s only one female employee, because occasionally there are external manifestations of sex that are not secret and can be observed. I’m referring, of course, to things like trying to spark up workplace conversations about Gray’s Anatomy.)
But even if the information wasn’t purely statistical, Let’s all have a look at 34 C.F.R. § 99.3(b)(3)(i)(A)-©, shall we? This is a list of things that aren’t considered protected by FERPA.
b. The term [“education record”] does not include: […]
(3) (i) Records relating to an individual who is employed by an educational agency or institution, that:
(A) Are made and maintained in the normal course of business;
(B) Relate exclusively to the individual in that individual’s capacity as an employee; and
© Are not available for use for any other purpose.
So the question is, are records of salaries, earnings, appointment and classification of employees made in the ordinary course of business and related exclusively to employment status? Presumably, the school isn’t intending to grade people on their age and race?
So even if there are identifiable employees in this data, it shouldn’t be protected by FERPA anyway. So what’s the real motivation here, University of California? Because FERPA doesn’t work.
I mean, it could be worse. You could’ve made yourself look guiltier by responding with, “Cmon, bro, be cool.” Or “bros before Meredith or Cristina or April.” Whoever they are.
We rate this: Not protected by FERPA at all