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The Saga of the Missing EAB Decisions

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It all started with a simple citation. One of our patrons had a case from the Oregon Court of Appeals and was looking for previous history information. The first thing that should have set off my radar that this would not be a simple request was the patron’s mention that the case was affirmed without opinion. Not knowing the twisting path before me, I happily set off on my journey.

Day 1:

  • I started with a LexisNexis search using the provided citation. Sadly, Lexis offered a paucity of prior history information. However, I did learn the case was an appeal from the Oregon Employment Appeals Board (EAB). Locating the original EAB decision (from 1985) was now my goal.
  • I next checked our library’s collection, where I found Employment Relations Board decisions, but nothing from the EAB.
  • I checked the EAB website, where you can search for decisions, but I didn’t find anything.
    So, I decided to call the EAB. They couldn’t find the decision; apparently they only have decisions dating back to 1998. However, the very helpful woman from the EAB said she would do more research and I should call back the following day.

Day 2:

  • I called the Multnomah Law Library in the hopes they had EAB decisions from the 1980s; however, they had discarded them (just my luck.)
  • I called the EAB back; they still couldn’t find the decision. While I was on the phone, they searched their database again, with no luck. It was suggested I call their imaging department.
  • I called and left a message for the imaging department.
  • Next, I looked on the Oregon State Archives (SA) website, with the hope old EAB decisions would go to the Archives for, well, archiving. Our trusty Blue Book says EAB records are transferred to the Archives after 20 years.
  • I searched the state agency records guide on the SA website, but only found LUBA information.
  • I called the SA reference desk, and they searched their database but only came up with LUBA, as well. The reference staff member gave me the number for the Employment Department Records Officer, and also seemed surprised EAB records weren’t showing up in the SA system.
  • I called and left a message for the Employment Department Records Officer.

Day 3:

  • After not hearing back from anyone, I called the Records Officer again. She checked the retention schedule, which showed records are sent to the State Archives after 20 years (as the Blue Book promised). However, she was only seeing that hearing records were transferred; she couldn’t find any mention of decisions. So, she provided me with phone numbers for other staff in the EAB department who might know where the old decisions are kept.
  • On a whim, I decided to check and see if our scanned appellate briefs happened to include this case. Sadly, it is too old to be included in our scanned collection. So, I looked in our microfilm collection, and lo and behold, there it was!
  • Next, I went over to the Assessment and Taxation Department to avail myself of their microfilm readers.
  • After trying the first machine, we (Chrystal joined in on the quest) discovered it wouldn’t advance the film. So, we tried the other machine, which had a lovely glare off the screen that made deciphering the images even more fun.
  • The case I needed was, of course, the last one on the microfilm. So, we spent some time trying to find the start of the case, as the index was absolutely no help whatsoever. What’s the point in having page numbers in an index if there isn’t continuous pagination? So what if my case was on page 122 of the bound volume; I needed to know where to find it in the microfilm.
  • We finally found my case, and by this point it was definitely “my” case, and discovered the original EAB decision was included in the appellate brief. Victory!
  • However, I still don’t know where the pre-1998 EAB decisions are archived.
  • The search continues…
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3 responses to “The Saga of the Missing EAB Decisions”

  1. annoymous says:

    Interesting. In comparison to other agencies’ efforts to increase transparency and accountability, the EAB is headed in the opposite direction. Want a copy of a decision? Don’t bother looking for the decision database, they got rid of that earlier this year. Instead, they will happily tell you to file a public records request… and good luck.

  2. Guest says:

    Hearing decisions are not permanent, and won’t be transferred to the State Archives.

    Employment Appeals Board (EAB) Hearing Records
    (a) Retain hearing decisions 20 years, destroy
    (b) Retain other records 5 years after date of hearing decision, destroy

    http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/doc/recmgmt/sched/special/state/sched/20080008employmentrrs.pdf

  3. Justice Background says:

    According to the current Oregon Employment Department records retention schedule, EAB case decisions are maintained by the department’s Benefits section: http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/doc/recmgmt/sched/special/state/sched/20080008employmentrrs.pdf

    *EAB hearing records and decisions do not have a permanent retention, so they have not (and won’t be) transferred to the State Archives.*

    ORS 192.420:

    (1) Every person has a right to inspect any public record of a public body in this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by ORS 192.501 to 192.505.

    (2)(a) If a person who is a party to a civil judicial proceeding to which a public
    body is a party, or who has filed a notice under ORS 30.275 (5)(a), asks to
    inspect or to receive a copy of a public record that the person knows relates
    to the proceeding or notice, the person must submit the request in writing to
    the custodian and, at the same time, to the attorney for the public body.

    (b)For purposes of this subsection:
    (A)The attorney for a state agency is the Attorney General in Salem.
    (B)“Person” includes a representative or agent of the person.

    See also: http://www.doj.state.or.us/pdf/public_records_and_meetings_manual.pdf

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