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Am I entitled to access my employee personnel file or get a copy?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgA: It depends on the state where you work. Call now to speak with one of our New York Employment Law Attorneys to learn whether you can obtain a copy of your personnel file and/or have a legal claim against your employer. Generally, there is no federal law requiring your company to give you access to your personnel file. By law, employees in New York and New Jersey are not entitled to review or obtain a copy of their personnel file. However, employees in Connecticut and 16 other states (Alaska, California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin) are entitled to obtain a copy of their personnel files. Specifically in Connecticut, pursuant to Connecticut General Statute Sections 31-128a to 31-128h, employees are entitled to inspect their personnel file up to twice a year after making a request. Your employer must provide a copy of your complete personnel file within a reasonable time.

If you work in a state that does not allow access to your personnel file, you may still make a request to review your personnel file. Although not required by law, some companies have policies that all employees to obtain a copy of their personnel file. For example, if you work in New York at a business that has corporate offices in a state which entitles employees to receive a copy of their personnel file such as Connecticut, the company might have a general policy granting access to all of its employees. A personnel file is a historical log of your employment and typically contains employee information such as your signed employment application, compensation information, performance reviews, non-competition and confidentiality agreements, internal memoranda, disciplinary action notices, performance improvement plans, information related to your hiring or firing, your workplace complaints, and your vacation records. It is worth noting that Connecticut defines a “personnel file” broadly to include any document relied upon by your employer in making an employment decision, whether it is maintained in the physical personnel file or not.

Your personnel file should not contain any of your medical records. These records must be segregated in a separate folder. Medical records include documents regarding any requests for a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) or leave requests pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act, short-term disability plan or long-term disability plan. In addition, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) requires employers to segregate and protect your medical records. Failure to segregate your medical records is a serious violation and could expose your employer to liability.

Reviewing your personnel file can be advantageous for several reasons. You will be able to correct any errors and/or better be suited to defend against disputed performance issues especially if you are considering filing a lawsuit or claim against the company. Remember that the documents and papers in the file are your employer’s property. It may be illegal to take or remove any documents from your file without your employer’s permission. Even if your employer does not allow you make a copy or review your personnel file, you may wish to keep your own diary or file of your employment history.

If you want assistance in obtaining a copy of your personnel file or have questions about your rights in the workplace, call us now at (800) 893-9645 to speak with one of experienced employment lawyers and learn your rights.

Disclaimer:
Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney in your state or jurisdiction.