Georgia redaction case

The Gainesville Times, which covers Gainesville, Georgia, a town of about 35,000, has filed a lawsuit against the city over the fact that the city is redacting names from a requested copy of an anonymous letter the city received alleging that its former city manager was sexually harrassing several city employees.

Two of the names that the newspaper wants, and the city is so far refusing to provide, are the names of employees that the anonymous letter-writer says were harrassed by the city manager.

I have mixed feelings about this. If I worked for a private company and my boss was sexually harrassing me — and someone sent an anonymous letter to the company’s human resources department reciting those facts — the local newspaper doesn’t have a legal right to a copy of that anonymous letter.

But if I work for a city, my boss is harrassing me, and someone sends an anonymous letter to the city — a letter I had nothing to do with, but which presumes to mention my name — then the local newspaper does (or might) have a legal right to discover my name.

Awkward. Especially if, as is often the case, the sexual harrassment victim is young and relatively powerless–one might say that this person has become an object several times over.

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