The Kansas Supreme Court in Sante Fe has joined the majority of states in declaring that administrative "fishing expeditions" via the use of subpoena powers are now permissible. No probable cause need be shown and confidential information may be subject to subpoena if there is even a mere possibility of relevance to a matter within the scope of the agency's authority. The state's interest in preventing discrimination in employment practices has been declared a "compelling state interest" such as to override any claims to rights of privacy. Although primarily discussing only arrest and conviction records, the court in actuality upheld without modification a subpoena which was much broader in scope." As a result of this decision personnel records of employees who are not themselves parties to any litigation may be obtained upon a showing of a mere possibility of relevance. It seems doubtful that a general legislative dictate that the agency maintain the confidentiality of the records can provide sufficient safeguards to potential administrative "witch hunts," especially when the legislature does not even establish penalties for the breach of such confidentiality.
Hostetler, David L.
"Administrative Agencies; Subpoena Power; Relevancy; Right of Privacy; Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe Ry. Co. v. Lopez,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 9
, Article 7.
Available at: https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol9/iss2/7