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Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB)

The California public records act guidelines of the office of the commissioners Workers' Compensation Appeals Board

NOTICE: In general, case files of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) are maintained by the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) at the local district office of the WCAB where the case was filed or is venued. Therefore, unless a case is currently pending before the Commissioners of the Appeals Board on reconsideration or removal (or unless appellate review has been granted and the case is pending before the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court), a member of the public wishing to inspect or obtain copies of some or all of a WCAB file should contact the DWC Public Records Coordinator at the local WCAB district office. A listing of the Public Records Act coordinators at the local district offices may be found at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/publicrecordsact/PRA_coordinators.html. 1 The addresses and phone numbers of the district offices may be found at: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/dir2.htm. If, however, the public records act request is limited to a copy of a decision or order by the Commissioners of Appeals Board, the request should be made to the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB in accordance with Sections B-1, B-2, B-3 and B-4 below.

A. The Public Records Act

The California Public Records Act (PRA) requires the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB to make public records it maintains and that are disclosable available upon request.  The guidelines provided here are intended to ensure that members of the public understand – and are afforded the opportunity to exercise – their rights under the PRA to inspect and obtain copies of disclosable WCAB records maintained by the Office of the Commissioners.  These guidelines, however, are not all-inclusive and do not discuss all aspects of the PRA or its exceptions.  Also, these guidelines pertain only to disclosable public records maintained by the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB.  Requests pertaining to public records maintained by any other state agency (including DWC) should be directed to that agency..

B. The Manner in Which Disclosable WCAB Public Records May Be Inspected and/or Copied

There are several ways that disclosable public records maintained by the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB may be inspected and/or copied.

1. Written Requests

The preferred method for inspecting or obtaining copies of disclosable public records maintained by the Office of the Commissioners is by written request.  Written requests should be directed to:

Public Records Access Coordinator
Office of the Commissioners
Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board
P.O. Box 429459
San Francisco, CA 94142-9459

A written request need not be in any particular form, but it should describe the requested record(s) with sufficient specificity to enable the staff of the Office of the Commissioners to identify and locate the record(s) sought and to quickly respond to the request.  Therefore, the written request should include:

  • A statement that you are requesting information under the California Public Records Act;
  • A clear and specific description of the information you are requesting;
  • Your name, address, phone, fax, and email, so that the WCAB may reach you to respond to or discuss the request; and
  • If you are requesting a waiver of fees, a brief statement of why you believe you are entitled to the waiver.

2. Oral Requests

A request to inspect and/or obtain copies of disclosable public records maintained by the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB may be made orally.  Oral requests should be made to:

Public Records Access Coordinator
Office of the Commissioners
Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board
(415) 703-5028

An oral request need not be in any particular form; however, it should include the same information described in “Written Requests,” above.

When an oral request for records is received, in order to eliminate any potential confusion regarding the request the Office of the Commissioners may ask that the request be reduced to writing or it may confirm the request in writing.

3. E-mail Requests

A request to inspect and/or obtain copies of disclosable public records maintained by the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB may be made by e-mail.  E-mail requests should be sent to WCABReconPRA@dir.ca.gov.  An e-mail request need not be in any particular form; however, it should include the same information described in “Written Requests,” above.

4. Inspection at the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB

Disclosable public records maintained by the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB may be inspected at any time during its regular office hours.  The Office of the Commissioners’ regular office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except state holidays.  The street address is:

Office of the Commissioners
Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board
455 Golden Gate Avenue, 9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102

Members of the public are not required to give prior notice in order to inspect disclosable public records maintained by the Office of the Commissioners during its regular office hours.  Nevertheless, members of the public who wish to inspect or obtain copies of disclosable public records maintained by the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB are encouraged to make an appointment in advance.  Although such appointments are not mandatory, they will help the Office of the Commissioners facilitate the records request.  To make an appointment, please contact the Office of the Commissioners’ Public Records Access Coordinator at (415) 703-5028.  An appointment also may be made in person at the address above.

Failure to make an appointment may result in delay while the records are located and reviewed, if necessary, to determine whether they are exempt from disclosure or must be redacted in order to protect material that is exempt from disclosure.  The Office of the Commissioners must be given a reasonable time to perform these functions.  In addition, the Office of the Commissioners may temporarily deny or delay the inspection of disclosable public records for various operational reasons, including but not limited to:

  • The records are required by the Office of the Commissioners’ staff or other state officials or personnel in the performance of their duties;
  • The Office of the Commissioners does not have staff immediately available to supervise the requested inspection of records; or
  • Other members of the public are waiting to inspect the records.

If you come to the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB to inspect and/or copy disclosable public records maintained by it, you will be directed to a record review area, where the disclosable requested records will be made available for your review.  The originals of the WCAB’s records may not be removed from the office of the Office of the Commissioners.  Please be aware that it is a crime to steal, remove, destroy, mutilate, deface, alter, or falsify WCAB records.  The Office of the Commissioners’ staff may be assigned to observe the file review in order to protect the integrity of its records.  Upon either the completion of the inspection or upon the oral request of personnel of the Office of the Commissioners, the person conducting the inspection shall relinquish physical possession of the records.

C. Records That Are Not Open For Inspection or Will Not Be Disclosed

Some records are specifically exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the PRA.  Other records are exempted from disclosure through other provisions of state or federal law.  Several of the PRA disclosure exemptions are based on an individual’s right to privacy (e.g., privacy in certain personnel, medical or similar records).  Some other disclosure exemptions are based on the government’s need to perform its functions in a reasonably efficient manner (e.g., maintaining confidentiality of investigative records; records related to pending litigation; and preliminary notes or memoranda).  A complete list of the exemptions will not be provided here.  Please refer to the statutory provisions of the PRA to identify its specific exemptions.

D. The Office of the Commissioners’ Response to a Request to Review or Copy Disclosable Public Records

When a request is made to inspect or to obtain a copy of a disclosable public record maintained by the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB, the Office When a request is made to inspect or to obtain a copy of a disclosable public record maintained by the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB, the Office of the Commissioners ordinarily will determine within 10 days whether to comply with the request and it will promptly inform the requester of its decision and the reasons for it.  If the determination will not be made within 10 days due to unusual circumstances, the Office of the Commissioners will notify the requester of the reasons for the delay and the date when the determination is expected to be issued.  However, the initial 10-day period to make a determination will not be extended for more than an additional 14 days.

In responding to public records requests, the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB will advise the person submitting the request, by telephone or by mail as appropriate, of (1) the location, date, and time at which the requested records may be inspected; (2) the cost of providing copies, if copies of records are requested; (3) which requested records are not subject to disclosure.  Also, the Office of the Commissioners may request additional information if the records request is not specific enough to permit the identification of the requested records.  The PRA requires the Office of the Commissioners to make reasonable efforts to assist members of the public in making a focused and effective request for disclosable public records.

If the Office of the Commissioners’ response to a written request for the inspection or copying of public records includes a determination that the request is denied, in whole or in part, the response will be in writing.  Such a response will set forth the names and titles or positions of each person responsible for the denial.

If possible, public records maintained by the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB that it deems are subject to disclosure will be provided at the time the determination is made.  If immediate disclosure is not possible, the Office of the Commissioners will provide the disclosable records within a reasonable period of time, along with an estimate of the date that the records will be available.

E. How Copies of Disclosable Public Records Are Provided and the Fees for the Provision of These Copies

Upon request by a member of the public, the Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB will make copies of disclosable public records it maintains.  These copies will be provided promptly, upon payment of the applicable fees, which will be either: (1) the statutory fee, where the fee is prescribed by law; or (2) $0.19 per page, which is the Office of the Commissioners’ direct cost of duplication (i.e., the prorated costs of running a copy machine and the prorated personnel expenses of the staff person operating it) – except that, in either case, the first ten (10) pages of disclosable public records will be provided at no charge.  In addition, if the copies are mailed, the actual costs for the postage and any packaging materials may be charged.  Also, for certified copies of WCAB records, there is an additional charge of $10.00 for each certification. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, §§ 9990(b), 10322.)

In some cases (especially with voluminous records), the Office of the Commissioners may send its records to a bonded copy service, rather than copying them in its own offices.  The person requesting the records must pay the copy service’s charges before receiving the copies.  Members of the public may also pay bonded copy service companies to come to the Office of the Commissioners to make copies.

If the requested disclosable public records are in electronic format, the requestor shall bear the direct costs of duplication of producing a copy of a record in electronic format and shall also bear the costs to construct a record and the programming and computer services necessary if:

  1. The Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB is required to produce a copy of an electronic record and the record is one that is produced only at otherwise regularly scheduled intervals; or
  2. The Office of the Commissioners of the WCAB is required to perform data compilation, extraction, or programming to produce the record.

These guidelines are to be posted in a conspicuous public place at the Office of Commissioners.  They are available free of charge to any person who requests them.

These Guidelines supersede all other Public Records Act Guidelines issued by the Office of Commissioners of the WCAB. (Issue Date: May 25, 2010)

DISCLAIMER

The Office of the Commissioners of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board provides this information for the convenience of the user.  We strive to make this information as timely and complete as possible, however, no representation or warranty is made that the information contained is current or accurate.  Also, unless otherwise stated, the user may not rely on any statement of the law as being definitive, but should consult the actual text of the law and/or an attorney.


1Public Records Act requests for DWC-maintained documents that are not directly related to a specific workers’ compensation case may be obtained by contacting DWC’s Statewide Public Records Coordinator by mail at P.O. Box 420603, San Francisco, CA 94142, by phone at (866) 681-1459, by fax at (510) 286-0687, or by e-mail at DWC_PRA@dir.ca.gov.  DWC’s Statewide Public Records Coordinator also handles Public Records Act requests for the following statewide DWC units or programs: the Administrative Unit; the Audit Unit; the Disability Evaluation Unit; the Information and Assistance Unit; the Legal Unit; the Medical Unit; the Retraining and Return to Work Unit; the Research Unit; and the Special Funds Unit.

May 2010