Michelle Cohen Levy

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Do you have a right to review your personnel files?

| Jan 28, 2021 | Employment Law |

As an employee, something you should know is that you have a right to review your personnel files and records. Many people don’t think about how those files could affect them, but mistakes or notations in them could impact your career and future with a company or another business you want to get a reference to work for.

Florida has unusual laws when it comes to reviewing your own personnel files and records. Depending on the job you work in, you may or may not have a right to look at your own records, even if they could impact your career path or employment.

If you want to review your personnel files, what should you do?

There is no state law that gives you the automatic right to review your personnel files except to obtain medical information regarding exposure to toxic substances. Your contract will have more information about what you can or cannot review. For example, union employees may have a union contract that grants them permission to access personnel files. Private sector employees, however, may only have the right if it is granted by the employer.

In Florida, public employees are allowed to see their files and request copies of their contents. The Florida Public Records Act grants you the right to see those files (and to obtain copies). This act, also known as the “Sunshine” law, makes many of the documents kept by public agencies public records, so you can legally request access at any time.

How can you access your files if you don’t have the legal right to see them?

Since the law doesn’t protect your right to see those documents, it’s a good idea to ask your employer, human resources representative or a manager if they will give you permission to view those documents. Your employer may still refuse to allow you to see those documents, though.

If you want to see documents and work for a public agency, you should not be refused in most cases. If you have a right to review your personnel files due to your employment contract or because of whom you work for, then your employer could be breaking the law if they refuse to give you access.