Must we release personnel file to employee terminated for inappropriate behavior?

Q. We recently terminated an employee for inappropriate workplace behavior. About two weeks after his last day of work, I received a letter from him requesting a copy of his personnel file. He did not state why he wanted it (although I can guess), and I’d rather not give him possible ammunition to use against the company in a lawsuit. Are we required to provide terminated employees access to or copies of their personnel files?

A. In some states, employees have an absolute right to review and receive copies of their employment file, but that is not the case in Indiana. An employee’s file remains the property of the company at which the employee worked, and the employer is free to refuse any informal requests for the file.

Of course, should the employee bring suit against the company, he will be entitled to receive a copy of the file during the course of litigation. However, outside such a situation, the employee has no independent right to receive or even review his personnel file.