Can I Get a Copy of My Personnel File?

February 17, 2015 by Julie A. Uebler, Esq.

I think my boss may have put a disciplinary warning in my personnel file without giving me a copy of it. Do I have the right to view my personnel file? If there is a warning in my file that I think is unfair, what can I do about it?

If you are employed in Pennsylvania, you have a statutory right to review the records in your personnel file. The Pennsylvania Personnel File Act requires employers in the commonwealth to give their employees access to their personnel records, but there are some restrictions. For example, the law requires employers to make the records available for inspection, but need not provide copies. The employer may also require that the employee submit a written request to inspect the records, and impose other limitations, such as restricting access to once per year, during the employee’s free (unpaid) time, and/or during regular business hours. “Personnel” records will include the typical documents relating to your employment, such as an employment application, compensation information, warnings, discipline, attendance records, and performance evaluations. However, the law does not require your employer to provide access to letters of reference relating to you, or documents relating to an investigation. Even though not required by law, many employers do allow employees to make and retain copies of any of their personnel records.

If you believe there are documents in your file that are unfair or do not “tell the whole story,” you may want to prepare a rebuttal or other explanation of the events that led to the warning, and ask that it be maintained with your personnel records. Also, some employers have grievance policies you can use to “appeal” a particular warning or disciplinary action. Note, however, that the law does not permit an employee to remove any document in a personnel file.

Additional information about the Pennsylvania Personnel File Act is available on Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry’s website.

Julie A. Uebler, Partner | Employment Law