Q. We recently received a subpoena to turn over an employee’s personnel file. The employee is a party to a lawsuit; the company is not. Do we have to comply? Should we tell the employee?
A. If the subpoena was validly served, with the appropriate fee, the company must either comply or move to quash the subpoena within the short time allowed to do so. Let the employee know right away, so he or his attorney can move to quash the subpoena if they think it’s appropriate.
Another factor to consider: Sometimes all it takes is a phone call by the company or its attorney to clarify exactly what documents the subpoena server wants. You also may be able to arrange a way to turn over the documents without having to send an employee to court with company records.