Responding to requests for personnel records

Responding to requests for personnel records

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Jul 01, 2005

A problem staffer asked for a copy of her personnel record. Must I release it?

Laws regarding personnel files vary by state, so consult an attorney for your state's legal requirements, says Kerry Richard, JD, president of the American Veterinary Medical Law Association. Some states have specific access laws about personnel files that may grant employees the right to review, receive copies of, or even write rebuttals to information contained in a personnel file. These laws also may list documents you must include in personnel files.

If your state doesn't legislate this type of access, Richard says, you can refuse to turn over a personnel file—but you must enforce this consistently. So if you let one employee look at his or her file, you need to extend the same privilege to everyone. "Of course, if you've adopted a written policy allowing employees access to their personnel files, you should comply with that policy, even if your state law doesn't require you to do so," he says.

Finally, Richard says, you must distinguish between personnel files and certain other records, such as medical records. Under federal law, you must let employees access these documents.

—Compiled by Elizabeth Trotta, Assistant Editor

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