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Understanding Minnesota’s personnel record requirements gives you a leg up during litigation

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Firing,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Office Management,Performance Reviews,Records Retention

Minnesota’s personnel record rules can cause problems for employers that don’t operate primarily in the state. For example, employers that aren’t used to the rules may not realize that employees can challenge the truthfulness of information in personnel records and then sue for defamation.

Recent case: Renee Lehman sued her former employer for age discrimination and defamation after she was placed on a performance improvement plan because of alleged poor performance.

But the court dismissed Lehman’s federal age discrimination claim because she missed a filing deadline. She had waited more than 90 days from the date the EEOC told her she could file in federal court before she brought her lawsuit.

She didn’t get any further with her defamation claim. Lehman had claimed defamation because the performance improvement plan was part of her personnel record, and she said it contained false allegations about her performance.

The court concluded that under Minnesota law, the information in personnel records can’t be challenged in court unless the employee places a written statement in the records identifying what information she disputes. Lehman hadn’t. (Lehman v. UnitedHealth Group, No. 10-2532, DC MN, 2010)

Final note: Involuntarily terminated Minnesota employees can also demand to know exactly why they were fired by requesting the reason in writing within 15 working days of termination. Employers then have 10 working days from receipt of the request to “inform the terminated employee in writing of the truthful reason for the termination.”

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