At times, employees receive unflattering, false, negative reviews from their supervisor. So as to “correct” the record, employees should review their personnel file to maintain job safety and protection. Employees have the right to do so under Pennsylvania Law.
In Pennsylvania, the Personnel Files Act protects an employee’s right to review his or her personnel file. An “employee” is defined under the Act as any person currently employed, laid off with re-employment rights, or on leave of absence. It does not include applicants for employment. Employees who are denied their right of access may file suit accordingly. For example, in the matter of Penn State University v. Commonwealth Department of Labor and Industry, University professors, who were denied tenure, were entitled to access their peer reports prepared in connection with their tenure reviews. In 2017, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court determined that recently discharged employees were entitled to review their file. The Act expressly permitted employees to inspect the employee’s personnel file to determine the basis for the employee’s termination as determined by the Court’s decision in Thomas Jefferson University Hospital v. Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
Under Section 1322 of the Act, an employer, at reasonable times and upon request of an employee, must permit that employee or an agent designated by the employee to inspect his or her own personnel files. The employee may review information to determine his or her own qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, termination or disciplinary action. The employer must make such records available during regular business hours. The Act does not require the employer to allow the employee to remove the personnel file or copy the contents, only review it. The taking of notes from the employee or the designated agent of the employee is permitted.
These are important rights for the Pennsylvania employee. Similarly so, Pennsylvania employers must be aware that employees do have the right to inspect their personnel file. This includes the recording of notes, and most likely, the dictation of notes if appropriate. Pennsylvania employees should inspect their personnel files to keep their job safe and protected. Under the law, an employee has the right to place a counter-statement in his or her file in the event an alleged error is determined by an employee. This is especially true if the employee is subjected to some type of work place harassment, discrimination, or illegal working conditions. The Patberg Law Firm recommends that employees review their personnel file annually to ensure its contents. If you have a question regarding employee file inspection, discrimination, or illegal working conditions, contact Rolf Patberg at the Patberg Law Firm at 412-232-3500 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.