Employee wants records

A termed employee came in today, without prior notice, and asked for a copy of her employment file. Have any of you had this request, and if so, what did you copy for them? I haven't had this request before but have heard that in some instances there can be liability issues. I asked the secretary to ask her to come back tomorrow. I didn't have time to drop everything and give her what she wanted. I would appreciate your thoughts.



  • 16 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Oregon statute requires an employer to provide an employee (including a former employee) with a copy of his/her personnel records. As I recall, some records are exempt. The relevant statute is ORS 652.750. You can look it up on the State's website.
  • [FONT=Arial][SIZE=1][COLOR=#ff0000][FONT=Arial][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Arial][COLOR=#000000][COLOR=#FF0000][COLOR=Black]Generally, I wouldn't allow former employees to review their personnel files. [/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR][/FONT][/COLOR][/FONT][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=Arial][SIZE=1][COLOR=#ff0000][FONT=Arial][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Arial][COLOR=#000000][COLOR=#FF0000][COLOR=Black]A few states, however, have laws requiring employers to permit former employees to inspect some, if not all, of their personnel file.

    [/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR][/FONT][/COLOR][/FONT][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=1]I strongly suggest that you consult with a qualified employment law attorney in your state before you allow a former employee access to his or her personnel file, or even make copies of documents from the file and give them to him/her.

    If you don't have an attorney try the link below to the Employers Counsel Network to find an attorney in your state.



    [/SIZE][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=1]PS: You should check you employee handbook. Your company may already have a policy that covers this. [/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][SIZE=2] [/SIZE]
  • Thank you for your responses. I talked to the secretary again and she said the termed employee wanted a copy of her last write-up, not everything in her file. In reading the ordinance (thanks David) it does say I have to supply it to her.

    I'm thankful I have this site to go to for help!
  • Come to find out, the manager said that this employee had an potential employer call for a reference and he told her that she is not re-hirable. I was told at an Oregon BOLI seminar years ago that it is fine to give out honest references, especiallly in the case violent employess because companies can be held liable. I do feel uncomfortable with this though.

    What are your plolicies concering references?
  • We are a trucking company, when it comes to references, by law we provide information regarding failed drug tests and DOT reportable accidents. Through the DAC system we also provide limited information about an employee not eligible for rehire.

    My policy for hiring and references are both the same, you have to simply look at the facts instead of opinion. If what you want to say is an opinion you are best to keep it quiet, if in fact what you are reporting is a fact then by all means state simply the facts. I try and remember that my Managers have personalities that do not always mesh with the employee at hand and although it does not make the employee not hireable just not at our facility. I hope that helps.
  • Hey Beth .. One more thing. I reread your post and it stated that the Manager advised that they had said the employee is not re-hireable. One thing that might help you in the future is to get your organization to follow one simple rule, NO employment verification is provided by anyone other than the Human Resources staff. You are the professionals trained to handle them.
  • Beth,

    We do not allow employees or ex-employees copies of their employment files, but we will allow them to look at the file in my office under my supervision. Copies of disciplinary actions and evaluations are offered to the employees when the employee signs the forms. As for references, like Partohead, it is our policy that all references come only from HR.
  • We give out references with a signed release and waiver of liability from the employee or former employee. We respond only to written questions and our answer is given in writing based on information in the personnel record. This is done to meet the requirements of good faith under SD law.
  • Oregon does protect employers who give out factual references in good faith to appropriate 3rd parties.

    That said, this may be a good time to check your reference policy and practices.

    * Do employees sign a reference authorization form when they leave?
    * Do supervisors know that only HR provides employment references?

    I am a big proponent of providing honest, factual references. Its the ONLY way we employers can protect eachother. Good employees deserve good references. Bad employees deserve carefully worded, factual references.
  • By policy, we provide ex-employees a copy of their personnel file w/in 30 days after separation, and also by policy, HR is the only one permitted to give references.

    We basically give "name, rank and serial number" except in cases of workplace violence or a conviction for fraud, although we are required to give full disclosure for firefighters.
  • I'm pretty extreme about references. If it's factual, documented, and work-related, it's fair game - as long as you have the ex-EE's signed release.

    I had a tough one yesterday. The guy isn't eligible for rehire, and I let the reference-checker know that. But the reason why... Well, it involved something he did [I]after[/I] he left, and I was not prepared to make the case that it was truly work-related. (Even though I think it was.)
  • I am in a different situation since all the stores do their own hiring and firing but I really like the suggestion of having only HR staff answer employment verifications (as it should be) and I will bring that up with the CEO.

    We have a new district manager who says that Oregon is an "at will" state so he only wants his managers to say "it isn't working out" when an employee is fired, even if they've been here for years. My argument against that is how do we defend ourselves in a lawsuit, discrimination or otherwise? How do we fight unemployment? Believe it or not we do sometimes win and rates are going through the roof! I told him regardless, we need to document, document, document.

    What does "at will" REALLY mean? According to Oregon BOLI, it just gives an employer greater flexibility in the workplace and also states "PRUDENT at-will employers will maintain records showing a legitmate business reason for any important personnel action". I feel it is my job to do everything possible to protect us against lawsuits. I just may have a fight on my hands................
  • I also believe in being honest. If a person is termed for theft, and we have proof, so be it. If a manager just doesn't like someone, keep that to yourself. Emotions and personal feelings should never play into it. Just the facts.

    Frank, Cheryl, would you mind emailing to me a copy of your release form? I would like to take a look at it.

  • [QUOTE=bethk;719277]We have a new district manager who says that Oregon is an "at will" state so he only wants his managers to say "it isn't working out" when an employee is fired, even if they've been here for years. ......[/QUOTE]

    Some employees will argue when you tell them why they are being let go, but some will benefit and learn. It is only fair to tell them why and a cop out to just tell them it isn't working out. Your manager needs to grow ...er.. that is, he needs to buck up and behave like a responsible adult.

  • I agree also. It is only fair. At another place I worked the manager let an employee go without telling her why. I think that upset her more than being fired and I believe she had a right to know.
  • This is a tough one because the majority of employees view themselves as essentially good workers (even when there is no evidence). That is PARTLY why you end up having to fire them. They won't improve because they don't sense the urgency.

    That said, I think giving employees very vague reasons for their terminations is a bad idea. When you fire someone, its an extremely traumatic experience for them. I think they deserve to know why they have been terminated. They may argue. They may disagree.

    But I think its better to be direct than to be vague and let them try to guess (probably incorrectly) why they were dismissed.

    I also think its easier to defend a future claim of discrimination if you have stated your reasons for the termination at the time. The protection of "at will" has been seriously eroded over the years.
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