What Your Personnel File Can Tell You About Your Firing

Being fired from your job can be an especially distressing experience when you have no idea why you were terminated. You might be sure that you have performed up to the standards of company conduct and performance. So if you feel left in the dark over your firing, California law allows you to ask your employer to provide your personnel file to look at, in addition to any records relating to your firing. By checking your personnel file, you may find the rationale behind your termination and even discover if the termination was unjust.

Per Ieci.org, a personnel file contains a lot of information pertaining to the employment life of a worker. This information can include the worker’s initial application for employment and the worker’s resume, but it can also contain documentation of a worker’s performance. An employer may place performance evaluations in the file or records of a worker’s training. Additional documents may include receipts that demonstrate that the worker attended job training sessions, positive recognitions such as awards, or letters from clients that commend the worker for good performance.

These records can show how you have been evaluated over the course of your employment and could prove your good behavior and progress as an employee. Also, the documents you might find in your file can show you have received workplace materials, including the company handbook. This is crucial if the handbook lays out conditions for employment. If you have met these conditions, your employer could be on the hook for wrongful termination.

Perhaps most importantly, your personnel file should contain information directly relating to your termination. These may include an employer’s written rationale for why you were fired. Employers may also place disciplinary documents in a personnel file as well, although some employers opt to keep documents relating to workplace complaints in a separate file to protect the employee if the employee was falsely accused of misconduct.

Be aware that some employers may not be quick to release a personnel file. If there is any delay in receiving your information, you can ask legal counsel about your options under state law. Also know that there are some documents, such as medical information, that should not be kept in a personnel file at all, so you might find additional problems with your file.

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