While the “permanent record” and its omnipotent threat rings throughout our school years, during our years in the workforce, we are dictated by our employee file, also known as the personnel file or personnel record.
Legally, the employer must maintain personnel files for their employees that include some of the following documents: employment application, payroll authorizations, tax documentation, proof of ability to work in the country, etc. Employers may also include disciplinary actions and attendance notices as well. The files must be kept by the employer for at least three years or even four years after the employee has stopped working for the employer. These time limitations are to ensure the preservation of wage and hour claims that have three to four years of statutes.
In California, employees have a right to inspect and/or receive copies of their personnel files upon request. Under Labor Code §1198.5, if the employer does not provide the personnel file within 30 days as mandated, then they may be liable for penalties as well. If you do request copies of the file, the employer does have it within their right to charge you for the cost of making copies.
Employers, additionally do have the right and ability to alter records if it is to redact and/or omit other employees' information. If you see black or white-outs on the produced version of the personnel file, do no panic—redaction may be the reason why.
If you are experiencing difficulty obtaining your requested personnel file and feel you have been wrongfully terminated or discriminated against, do not hesitate to call one of our Aegis attorneys.
Source: CA Labor Code