State law dictates employees’ access to personnel file

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in Office Management,Records Retention

Q. An ex-employee whom we fired is now asking to take some documents from his personnel file. Is he legally allowed to do this? Do we have to give him the information just because he's asking for it? —L.B., North Carolina

A. No federal law grants employees the right to inspect their personnel files. However, some states, such as California, do give employees such rights. It appears that North Carolina is not among the states that give employees access to their files.

But be aware of this fact: Even though you aren't required to disclose those personnel documents at this time, such documents could be “discoverable” (accessed by the employee's attorney) in the event of litigation.

Note: Employers in other states should check their state laws before responding to requests for personnel-file documents.

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