Q. What should we keep in personnel files? —G.T., Missouri
A. Here's a good rule of thumb: Personnel files should contain only the information that can legally be the basis for an employment-related decision, such as hiring, firing, promotion, demotion, layoff and training.
Employment decisions can't be made on the basis of sex, race, national origin, color, religion or veteran status, so keep all equal employment opportunity records separate. Making decisions based on an individual's disability is also illegal, so keep all medical information separate. In addition, garnishment orders can't be used as a basis for employment decisions, so all paperwork having to do with them must be kept separate. I-9 forms must be made available on demand to Labor Department inspectors, so it's best to keep them in a separate place, such as a binder.
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