A federal district court in California issued a ruling recently that has significant implications for employers seeking to prevent the public disclosure of EEO-1 Reports and other confidential information held by the government in response to a request for the data filed under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

At issue in the case of Center for Investigative Reporting v. U.S. Department of Labor was the scope of FOIA “Exemption 4,” which prevents disclosure of trade secrets and confidential commercial or financial information held by the government when a third party seeks the information by way of a FOIA request. In this case the plaintiffs were seeking disclosure of consolidated “Component 1” EEO-1 Reports filed with the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in 2016.

According to the court, consolidated EEO-1 Reports do not contain commercial information, and thus are not protected from disclosure under FOIA Exemption 4. Importantly, the ruling is limited to consolidated EEO-1 reports. The court did not address whether Exemption 4 applied to any other type of EEO-1 Report (such as establishment reports) or EEO1 “Component 2” wages and hours-worked data that EEO-1 filers have been required to file for calendar years 2017 and 2018.

As of this writing, the government has not indicated whether it will appeal the ruling.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.