Employee Personnel Files

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Many employees have experienced a situation in which their employer issues them a written warning or some type of written discipline which states that a copy of the warning or discipline will be placed into their personnel file.  However employees remain unfamiliar with exactly what is contained within their own personnel file.  What every employee should understand is that they may be entitled to obtain a copy of their complete file if they make the appropriate request.

Under Connecticut General Statute Section 31-128b, each employer shall, not more than seven business days after receipt of a written request from an employee, permit such employee to inspect, and if requested, copy his or her personnel file if such a file exists.  Such inspection shall take place during regular business hours at a location at or reasonably near the employee’s place of employment.  Each employer who has personnel files shall be required to keep any personnel file pertaining to a particular employee for at least one year after the termination of such employee’s employment.

This covers current employees, but what about if the employee no longer works for the employer.  Subsection (b) of Connecticut General Statute Section 31-128b directly provides former employees’ rights to their file.  Under subsection (b), each employer shall, not more than ten business days after receipt of a written request from a former employee, permit such former employee to inspect, and if requested, copy his or her personnel file if such a file exists, provided the employer receives such written request not later than one year after the termination of such former employee’s employment with the employer.  Such inspection shall take place during regular business hours at a location mutually agreed upon by the employer and former employee.  If the employer and former employee cannot agree upon a location to conduct such inspection, the employer may satisfy the requirements of this subsection by mailing a copy of the former employee’s personnel file to the former employee not more than ten business days after receipt of the written request from the former employee.

While Section 31-128 provides the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees, the most important question that must be determined is who is considered an employee, and who is considered an employer.  Under Connecticut General Statute Section 31-128a, a covered employer is defined as an individual, corporation, partnership or unincorporated association.  This would appear to cover most, if not all employers within the State of Connecticut.  A covered employee is defined as any individual currently employed or formerly employed by an employer and includes individuals in managerial positions.  It is clear that the employee personnel file statute is broadly defined and therefore is intended to cover a majority of employees/former employers in the state of Connecticut.

If an employee obtains inspection of their employee file and discovers something that they consider to be incorrect, the employee may bring the discrepancy to the attention of the employer.

If, upon inspection of his or her personnel file or medical records an employee disagrees with any of the information contained in such file or records, removal or correction of such information may be agreed upon by such employee and his or her employer.  If such employee and employer cannot agree upon removal or correction, then the employee may submit a written statement explaining his or her position.  Such statement shall be maintained as part of the employee’s personnel file or medical records and shall accompany any transmittal or disclosure from the file or records made to a third party.  C.G.S. §31-128e.

In terms of the employer placing documentation into the personnel file, Connecticut law requires that each employer shall include a statement in clear and conspicuous language in any documented disciplinary action, notice of termination of such employee’s employment or performance evaluation that the employee may, should the employee disagree with any of the information contained in such documented disciplinary action, notice of termination or performance evaluation, submit a written statement explaining his or her position. Such employee statement shall be maintained as part of the employee’s personnel file and shall accompany any transmittal or disclosure from such file or records made to a third party.

If you are an employee who is seeking access to, or has been denied access to their employee personnel file, or if you are an employer who has questions regarding an employee’s personnel file and their requested access, please call the experienced employment counsel at Harlow, Adams & Friedman, P.C. today at 203-878-0661 for a free consultation.

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