The court overturned the 2007 decision of an appeals court, which said the information was public barring "truly exceptional circumstances."
A five-justice majority of the Supreme Court found that the information doesn't have to be disseminated under the state's Freedom of Information Act. They said it meets the two-pronged legal test of being information of a personal nature, and its disclosure would be an invasion of the employees' privacy.
Where a person lives and how that person may be contacted, the justices wrote, "offers private and even confidential details about that person's life."
In reaching the decision, the justices said they were revising the prior legal definition of information considered to be of a personal nature. In addition to details of an embarrassing or intimate nature, the justices expanded the definition to include information that is private or confidential.Releasing the employees' home phone numbers and home addresses also wouldn't shed any light on whether the university is functioning properly, the justices ruled.
"We're delighted, absolutely delighted the court recognized the importance of the privacy interests that our employees have in their home phone numbers and addresses," said U-M spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham.