- Use the following hypothetical information:
After working for the Internal Revenue Service as an auditor and investigator for 10 years, Grace resigns. She then applies for employment at the New Enterprise Company (NEC), a private business that conducts background checks. Evelyn works for NEC and her position includes the responsibility of interviewing and hiring all new employees. After reviewing Grace’s application and interviewing Grace, Evelyn denies her application for employment. Curious about the reason for her denial, Grace files a FOIA request with the IRS and learns that Evelyn had also filed a FOIA request for any information about Grace that the IRS holds. In response to her request, the IRS informed Grace that they gave Evelyn the following documents and information:
- Grace’s former home address
- Grace’s college transcripts that she provided the IRS at the time of application for her prior job
- A letter from Grace’s supervisor that recommended against hiring her for a position involving sensitive data
- A copy of the written decision of an ALJ in a case filed by Grace against the IRS in which she challenged the results of an audit done by the IRS on her own tax return. Grace appealed the initial decision in the audit to an ALJ. In the official decision, the ALJ ruled in favor of the IRS and ordered Grace to pay back taxes and interest penalties.
- The report of the internal investigation of Grace by the IRS concerning allegations involving two audits that Grace conducted for two taxpayers whom she appeared to know personally. The allegations suggested that the taxpayers and Grace stayed at the same hotel in the Bahamas, and flew to and from the Bahamas on the same flight (and were assigned three seats together on both flights), all of which occurred prior to the audit. Grace claimed that she did not know or remember the two taxpayers from the flights and thus did not recuse herself or turn their audits over to another auditor within the IRS. The investigation found insufficient evidence to cite her for a violation of internal, operational rules of the IRS. However, the report concluded as follows: “Although we uncovered no unreported income of the two taxpayers nor any undue influence on Grace as an auditor, we believe that she violated the spirit of the rules by not reporting her relationships prior to or in her final report of the audit.”
- Grace comes to your attorney’s office and you are asked to write a memo explaining the Sunshine Laws, the FOIA, the Privacy Act, and whether she has any rights under either act that have been violated.
- Explain the conflicting values and limitations of each Act, and how they inter-relate to offset the negative values of the others. Then, starting with the FOIA, explain the major provisions of each act, citing and applying any specific rules or exceptions that may pertain to Grace’s case. Do the same with each Act. Further, if you find that any of Grace’s rights under these laws have been violated, state the remedies that are available to her. End with a recommendation as to whether this is a case that should be handled by your office and be sure the basis of your recommendation is based on the LAW!
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