ALBANY, N.Y. February 22, 2013 - New York State United Teachers today hailed a unanimous appellate court ruling that affirms retired teachers have privacy rights that prevent their annual pensions from being published on websites and in newspapers.
"This is an important victory for our retired members," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "We are pleased that New York's appellate court has recognized that, after decades of dedicated service to their students and school districts, the privacy rights of retired teachers in the New York State Teachers Retirement System should be protected. Too often, some in the media and extreme right-wing groups harass and seek to embarrass NYSUT retirees by wrongly publishing their personal information and pension benefits. We expect this ruling will stop that in its tracks."
Iannuzzi noted this court victory comes less than a year after NYSUT successfully achieved legislation that stopped invasion of privacy by the tabloid media, which wanted to embarrass and harass teachers by publishing their personal information and evaluation scores. "We will continue our unrelenting advocacy efforts on behalf of the privacy rights of all our members, no matter what the issue," he said.
In a case that was closely monitored by NYSUT staff, the Empire Center for New York State Policy - which frequently attacks teachers and other public employees - sued the Teachers Retirement System after the system refused a Freedom of Information Law request for the names, addresses and pension payments to the system's beneficiaries. The Empire Center lost in state Supreme Court in May 2012 and on Thursday in the Appellate Division. While it is unclear if the Empire Center will appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals, NYSUT vowed to strongly support efforts to defeat any further challenges to members' privacy.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said the court ruling "affirms teachers and retirees maintain rights to privacy, even as they work diligently on behalf of the public and the children they serve."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.