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Must manager release notes on performance when employee requests personnel file?

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in Leaders & Managers,Office Management,Performance Reviews,Records Retention

Q. One of our managers keeps notes of performance issues in a file that he uses for completing performance appraisals. One person he supervises has made a written request to see her personnel file—and specifically asked for information in the manager’s file. Do we have to give the notes to the employee?

A. Probably not. Minnesota’s personnel records statute requires employers to provide employees access to their personnel record upon written request. The statute defines personnel record to include, among other things, notices of commendation, warning or discipline.

The definition specifically excludes written comments or data kept by the employee’s supervisor or an executive, administrative or professional employee, provided the comments or data are kept in the sole possession of the author of the record.

Therefore, if the supervisor has kept these records in his sole possession, the employee does not have a right under the personnel records law to request a copy. That doesn’t mean the records could never be disclosed. For example, in litigation involving an employee, it is possible that records like these could be the target of a subpoena.

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