Am I entitled to my employment records?

by Brenda
(Ashtabula, OH)

I feel silly for asking this question, because I should have asked while employed. However, through all my work evaluations and write ups I was never offered copies of the documents. I never asked but should have. At this point, having applied for unemployment, am I entitled to get a copy of my employee file from my employer?


Hi Brenda,

I wouldn't feel silly about asking that question because it's a good question.

Often times, there are things in your personnel file that would be helpful for the employee at an unemployment hearing.

I know this because part of my job was to determine which documents .. provided to me by an employer .. should be submitted for a hearing .. it was common enough to come across one or two which I thought would only harm the employer's case.

I use to think to myself .. I hope the claimant doesn't subpoena this .. I stopped worrying eventually because I rarely received subpoenas from claimants .. which actually, at first, didn't make sense to me .. but I came to realize most unemployment claimants just don't understand the gravity of the need to do this .. or for some reason just give up.

An employee's right to view or copy their personnel record is state specific.

But although I believe Ohio allows public employees to view, copy, and otherwise keep tabs on what's in their files .. I don't think this applies to private sector employees.

Probably the first thing anyone who is employed should do is check the laws or the employer's policies to see if a policy in the handbook grants a way to gain access .. it doesn't really make sense for an employer to bar a person from doing this .. because it might look like they have something to hide and that just hurts employee confidence or trust of an employer ..



But as far as unemployment hearings are concerned .. if you know of a document that should be within your personnel file and you believe it would be helpful.. you can have a subpoena issued for the document(s) as long as it has relevancy if the employer denied your request for said document.

If a state doesn't have a specific labor law outlining an employees right to view and or copy their personnel records .. then do ask the employer .. but if they don't cooperate .. just keep notes of dates and the basic gist of any document you are required to sign.

If nothing else .. notes are a memory jogger and provide the happenings of work in chronological order .. which in turn makes you a better witness .. just in case.

I strongly believe that all employees should also keep their own "file".

I couldn't find a law for Ohio except for public employees, but please feel free to take a look yourself too.

And Brenda, Thank You for that very useful "general question":)

Chris

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