Freedom of Information Act

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests

Freedom of Information Act Requests (FOIA) and Policy for Releasing Information

The “Virginia Freedom of Information Act,” (Virginia Code §2.2-3700, et. seq.) ensures any public records in our possession at the time of the request may be subject to being inspected by or disclosed to members of the public.

However, all identifiable exempted/privileged information will be removed in accordance with applicable laws and regulations prior to releasing the information (see Virginia Freedom of Information Act; Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices ActVirginia Code §40.1-11; and 16 VAC 25-60-90 of the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Administrative Regulations Manual).

Generally, records from files that are part of an active Department inspection or investigation will not be released until the inspection or investigation is resolved.

FOIA Rights & Responsibilities

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.

A public record is any writing or recording — regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording, or any other format — that is prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business. All public records are presumed to be open, and may only be withheld if a specific, statutory exemption applies.

Your FOIA Rights:

  • You have the right to request to inspect and/or receive copies of public records.
  • You have the right to request that any charges for the requested records be estimated in advance.
  • If you believe that your FOIA rights have been violated, you may file a petition in district or circuit court to compel compliance with FOIA.

FAQs

Making a Request for records from the Department
  • You may request records by U.S. Mail, fax, e-mail, in person, or over the phone. FOIA does not require that your request be in writing, nor do you need to specifically state that you are requesting records under FOIA.
  • From a practical perspective, it may be helpful to both you and the person receiving your request to put your request in writing. This allows you to create a record of your request. It also gives us a clear statement of what records you are requesting, so that there is no misunderstanding over a verbal request. However, we cannot refuse to respond to your FOIA request if you elect to not put it in writing.
  • Your request must identify the records you are seeking with “reasonable specificity.” This is a common-sense standard. It does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records that you are requesting; instead, it requires that you be specific enough so that we can identify and locate the records that you are seeking.
  • Your request must ask for existing records or documents. FOIA gives you a right to inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general questions about the work of the Department, nor does it require the Department to create a record that does not exist.
  • You may choose to receive electronic records in any format used by the Department in the regular course of business.
  • If we have questions about your request, please cooperate with staff’s efforts to clarify the type of records that you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement about a response to a large request. Making a FOIA request is not an adversarial process, but we may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that we understand what records you are seeking.
Costs to Make a Request
  • You may have to pay for the records that you request from the Department. FOIA allows us to charge for the actual costs of responding to FOIA requests. This would include items like staff time spent searching for the requested records, copying costs, or any other costs directly related to supplying the requested records. It cannot include general overhead costs.
  • Allowable charges as of February 16, 2024 are: 1) Staff time will be charged at the hourly rate of the individual(s) contributing staff time to answering the request. 2) Copying costs will be charged at $0.10 per page. 3) Copies of audio or video material onto a DVD or CD will be charged at $10.00 each.
  • If we estimate that it will cost more than $200 to respond to your request, we may require you to pay a deposit, not to exceed the amount of the estimate, before proceeding with your request. The five days that we have to respond to your request does not include the time between when we ask for a deposit and when you respond.
  • You may request that we estimate in advance the charges for supplying the records that you have requested. This will allow you to know about any costs upfront or give you the opportunity to modify your request in an attempt to lower the estimated costs.
  • If you owe us money from a previous FOIA request that has remained unpaid for more than 30 days, the Department may require payment of the past-due bill before it will respond to your new FOIA request. 

       

       

      The Department’s Responsibilities in Responding to Your Request

      The Department must respond to your request within five working days of receiving it. “Day One” is considered the day after your request is received. The five-day period does not include weekends or holidays.

      FOIA requires that the Department make one of the following responses to your request within the five-day time period:

      1. We provide you with the records requested.

      2. We notify you that the requested records are being entirely withheld. Such response shall identify with reasonable particularity the volume and subject matter of withheld records, and cite, as to each category of withheld records, the specific Code section that authorizes the withholding of the records.

      3. We notify you that the requested records are being provided in part and are being withheld in part. Such response shall identify with reasonable particularity the subject matter of withheld portions, and cite, as to each category of withheld records, the specific Code section that authorizes the withholding of the records.

      4. We notify you that the requested records could not be found or do not exist. However, if the public body that received the request knows that another public body has the requested records, the response shall include contact information for the other public body.

      5. We notify you that it is not practically possible to provide the requested records or to determine whether they are available within the five-work-day period. Such response shall specify the conditions that make a response impossible. If the response is made within five working days, the public body shall have an additional seven workdays.

      FOIA Request Exemptions

      The Code of Virginia allows any public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure. The Department commonly withholds records subject to the following exemptions contained in § 2.2-3705.1 of the Code of Virginia : 

      • Personnel information (§ 2.2-3705.1.1) 
      • Records subject to attorney-client privilege (§ 2.2-3705.1.2)  
      • Records subject to attorney work product (§ 2.2-3705.1.3) 
      • Any test or examination used, administered or prepared by any public body for purposes of evaluation (§ 2.2-3705.1.4) 
      • Vendor proprietary information (§ 2.2-3705.1.6) 
      • Administrative Dispute Resolution communications and materials ((§ 2.2-3705.1.11) 
      • Records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract, prior to a contract being awarded (§ 2.2-3705.1.12) 

       

      Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council

      In addition, the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council is available to answer any questions you may have about FOIA. The Council may be contacted at:

      Email: foiacouncil@leg.virginia.gov
      Phone: (804) 225-3056 or [toll free] 1-866-448-4100.

      To request records from the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, please contact:

      Address

      Virginia Department of Labor and Industry
      Attn: FOIA Request
      6606 West Broad Street
      Richmond, VA 23230

      Phone Number

      Office: (804) 786-9933
      Fax: (804) 786-8418

      Email Address

      jane.daffron@doli.virginia.gov


      You may pay for your inspection certificate invoice online. Accepted methods of payment include:

      • Check
      • Credit Card
      • Electronic Check (E-Check)
      • Electronic Transfer (EDI)
      • Money Order
      • Cash IS NOT accepted

      If you wish to pay by credit card or e-check, you will need certain information from your invoice, including invoice number and the Virginia number (VA number) of one of the objects. The VA number can be found on the table that appears on the invoice. You will only need to provide one VA number, even if your invoice lists several object numbers.

      For all other methods of payment, please follow the instructions on the invoice and the remittance form you received.

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