Exterior view of the Department of Labor building on the Harriman Campus in Albany, NY.

Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Requests

Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Requests
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Overview

The Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”), Article 6 (Sections 84-90) of the NYS Public Officers Law, provides the public right to access records maintained by government agencies with certain exceptions.

“Record” means any information kept, held, filed, produced or reproduced by, with, or for this agency, in any physical form whatsoever including, but not limited to, reports, statements, examinations, memoranda, opinions, folders, files, books, manuals, pamphlets, forms, papers, designs, drawings, maps, photos, letters, microfilms, computer tapes or disks, rules, regulations or codes.

Learn more about records access and Open FOIL NY.

View the Department of Labor's subject matter list pertaining to FOIL.

Specific Types of Records

For the Department of Labor to process records requests, please note that you must provide specific information to the Department for certain types of records.

Non-Unemployment Insurance Records: Requests should include a general description of the subject matter of the request (e.g. wage underpayment, asbestos licensing, apprenticeship registration, etc.) along with as many specific details as possible to help identify and locate your requested records. For example, requests should include the following information, if it is available:

  • Any relevant file numbers
  • The relevant unit of DOL that maintains the records
  • Name and addresses of individual(s) or entities involved
  • Time period covered by the request

Unemployment Insurance Records: Unemployment Insurance records and information are confidential under both federal and state law and cannot be released under FOIL unless the Department receives proof of identification, a notarized authorization, or under other circumstances prescribed by law. For more information, see section 537 of New York’s Labor Law.

Electronic requests should not include your full SSN; instead, if you send an electronic request for records you should immediately follow up your electronic request with a fax or mail request containing the SSN and the additional information identified below. (Make certain to include identifying information with your fax or mail request so we can make certain to connect your fax or mail information with the correct electronic request.)

Requesting Your Own Unemployment Insurance (UI) Records:

If you are requesting your own UI records, you must provide:

  • Your name
  • Your Social Security number (unless the request is submitted electronically)
  • A request for records containing a description of the specific information you are requesting from the Department (e.g. the forms, documents, or information you are requesting, and the time period covered by the request)
  • Your request form must contain either your notarized signature, or
  • In lieu of a notarized signature, you must provide a copy of your driver’s license or equivalent proof of identification containing your signature

Requesting Another Person’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Records:

If you are requesting the UI records of someone other than yourself, you must provide the following:

  • The name and Social Security number of the individual whose records you are requesting
  • A request for records containing a description of the specific information you are requesting from the Department (e.g. the forms, documents, or information you are requesting, and the time period covered by the request)
  • An authorization signed by that individual allowing you to obtain that individual’s records. The authorization must:
    • Contain a notarized signature of that individual
    • Specifically state that the Department of Labor is permitted to release his or her Unemployment Insurance records to you
    • State the purposes for which the records will be used, and
    • State that the records will be used solely for that purpose, and no other

Please note that the Department of Labor does not maintain records for the Industrial Board of ppeals (IBA). If you wish to obtain copies of documents that the IBA maintains, visit their website.

Make a FOIL Request

Please Note: In light of New York State’s reduction in workforce as part of the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be delays in response to FOIL requests. Thank you for your patience during this extraordinary time.

Mail a written request to:

Records Access Officer
New York State Department of Labor
State Office Campus, Building 12, Room 509
Albany, New York 12240

Email a written request to: [email protected]

Fax a written request to: (518) 485-1819

Submit a request for records in person:

You may submit a request for records in person at our main offices located in Building 12, State Office Campus, Albany, New York. Upon entering the main entrance of the building, advise Security Staff that you would like to request records. Security Staff will contact Counsel’s Office, and a staff member will provide you with a records request form.

Please be advised that Department records are located throughout the state in local offices as well as in the Department’s main offices and require review prior to disclosure. As a result, documents and records will not be immediately available.

Open Foil NY

File a FOIL request to more than 50 New York State executive agencies and authorities through Open FOIL NY. 

Submit an Open FOIL Request

Process

Within five business days of the receipt of a written request for a record reasonably described, we will send you a letter either: making such record available; denying such request in writing; or furnishing a written acknowledgment of the receipt of such request. If you have not received a letter within five business days, please contact us at (518) 457-4380 or [email protected].

An acknowledgment letter will provide you with an estimate of when the records you request will be available, which shall be reasonable under the circumstances of the request. This date is determined by the number of documents you request, their format, their availability, the time it takes to redact any information that cannot be disclosed pursuant to FOIL, the time it takes to assemble the documents, and other factors.

If the records you request require a fee to be paid, you will be notified prior to the records being released to you. Unless a different fee is otherwise prescribed by statute, Public Officers Law § 87(1) authorizes an agency to charge a fee of 25¢ per copy for copies of records up 9” x 14”, or the actual cost of reproducing a record. In determining the actual cost of producing a record, an agency may include only:

  • an amount equal to the hourly salary attributed to the lowest paid agency employee who has the necessary skill required to prepare the requested record(s), if at least two hours of agency employee time is needed to prepare a copy of the record(s) requested;
  • the actual cost of the storage devices or media provided to the person making the request in complying with such request; and
  • the actual cost to the agency of engaging an outside professional service to prepare a copy of a record, but only when an agency's information technology equipment is inadequate to prepare a copy, if such service is used to prepare the copy.

Once the requested records are prepared, you may receive the records via email, fax, paper, CD/DVD, or USB. Once the Department has informed you that the records you requested can be disclosed to you, you can request they be made available for personal inspection. You must call Counsel’s office at (518) 457-4380 in advance to advise the Records Access Officer you would like to inspect the records and to set up a date for inspection. Appointments for inspection must be scheduled Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

Right to Appeal

Under provisions of the Public Officers Law you may appeal a FOIL determination. If you desire to submit such an appeal, you must do so within 30 days of the written response to your FOIL request. Please include a copy of the original request for records and a copy of the FOIL response letter you received along with your appeal letter to:

Commissioner of Labor
New York State Department of Labor
Harriman State Office Campus
Building 12, Room 500
Albany, NY 12240

You will be informed in writing of the decision within ten business days of our receipt of such an appeal. Please indicate the FOIL Request Number when corresponding on this subject.

Helpful Tips

For more information about FOIL, please visit the New York State Committee on Open Government’s website.

Please note that you must provide specific information to the Department for certain types of records. If you are preparing a request for Non-Unemployment Insurance Records or Unemployment Insurance Records, please see the clear instructions in the “Overview” section at the top of the page.

When submitting a FOIL request:

  • Be as specific as possible in describing the requested records. Include relevant dates, names, descriptions, etc. See suggested language for a FOIL request from the Committee on Open Government.
  • Specify whether you would like to inspect the records or have copies of the records sent to you.
  • If records are available, specify how you want them sent, i.e., via US mail, email or fax. We may choose to send the records by U.S. mail, if you have requested a large volume of records, for security or other important reasons. We will notify you of any charge for reproducing such records before they are sent to you.
  • Include your email, mailing address and fax number, as well as a telephone number where you can be reached during business hours, if it is necessary to clarify your request.
  • Please note that the agency is not required to create a new record in response to FOIL requests.