January 22, 2018

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#HR Tip – Nothing Good Comes from a Personnel File Request

Ever heard of that old saying “nothing good happens after 1 a.m”? It’s a recognition that a simple act often increases the risk of getting into some kind of trouble.

Human Resource Managers should view an employee’s simple act of requesting a copy of their personnel file the same way – nothing good ever comes from it. Typically, an employee requests a copy of his personnel file only when there is an actual or potential dispute brewing with his employer. In fact, it is usually one of the first steps an employee (or ex-employee) takes in filing a claim against the employer.

So treat such requests carefully. Assume that it is likely a claim will be filed. Follow any applicable state laws in responding to them, and make sure that any documents that should not be in the file, or are not required by law to be produced, are taken out. Always remove any emails or other documents evidencing communications between the company and its attorneys. And then hope you never hear from the employee again.



About this Author

Mitchell Quick, Michael Best Law Firm, Labor and Employment Attorney

Mitch serves as a trusted advisor to businesses on all aspects of management labor and employment law. Clients value his deep knowledge of employment and labor laws, with an emphasis on wage and hour law. Clients regularly seek his counsel regarding compliance with the many and continually changing labor and employment laws, as well as to address challenging or risky personnel situations.

Mitch has represented businesses across a range of industries, including: 

  • Large and small manufacturers

  • ...