We are often asked questions about employees’ rights. Occasionally we are asked about terminated employees’ rights to employment records.
You have an ex-employee that was terminated a few weeks ago. The employee has asked that you mail her a copy of her entire employee H/R file with everything in it from the time she was hired until the day she was terminated. What are your recommendations on this request?
Generally, as your policy states – personnel files are the property of an organization, and usually employees do not have a right to have a copy of their records upon termination. However, access to or copies of medical records, is typically handled on the State level. And generally, requests to access or receive a copy of personnel records must be made in writing.
For example, states we are aware of that have laws regarding access to or copies of medical records upon termination include: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode, Island, Washington and Wisconsin.
An employee’s right to access or receive a copy of his/her employee records are typically handled on a State level. As we mentioned above, we briefly searched Tennessee State laws for private sector employee and could not find any requirements for providing copies to an ex-employee. Therefore, in our opinion it would be based on your organization’s policy. The language you have in your current policy states: “Personnel files are the property of (Name of Organization), and access to the information they contain is restricted.” And, “Current active employees who wish to review their own file should contact human resources. With legitimate reason and advance notice…”
Please let us know if you have any additional questions.