If I am terminated from my employer can I get my personnel records?

UPDATED: Oct 5, 2011

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If I am terminated from my employer can I get my personnel records?

The person I spoke to told me I needed a subpoena from a lawyer is this true?

Asked on October 5, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Actually, even a lawyer won't, by itself, help you...you can only get the records if you bring a lawsuit in which the records are germane or relevant (e.g. a wrongful termination or employment discrimination lawsuit).

Personnel records may be about you, but they belong to the company. The company has no obligation to share them with you until and unless you use the legal mechanisms of "discovery" (e.g. written interrogatories or questions; requests to produce documents; depositions) to access them. Those mechanisms are only available in a lawsuit, and only when the documents are relevant to the legal action. So if you want to see if you in fact have a lawsuit, you first need to bring the lawsuit (as long as you have a *good faith* basis for doing so, you won't be penalized even if it turns out you were wrong), then seek the records to prove your case.

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