Release of employee records

We have a letter from the defendant's attorney requesting records on a team member. A few weeks ago, we had a similar request from the plaintiff's (our associate's) attorney. Attached to the letter is a release signed by our associate that authorizes us to release information regarding her employment , medical records including workers' comp and all personnel records.

This isn't a work related injury so we aren't a party to it. The authorization letter indicates that the disclosure of information is being made for the purpose of discovery in pending litigation for personal injuries suffered by the plaintiff.

Defendant's attorney has asked for a complete copy of their personnel/medical file. This includes employment applications, performance evaluations, disciplinary reports, compensation and attendance records and any medical/accident information therein.

We haven't run into this before - any advice or is it best to run it past our employment lawyer? Hated to spend the money if it was pretty cut & dry.


  • 3 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • We've not run into this one either, however my thoughts are that the employee's personnel file is the company's property, not the employee's. So, it doesn't matter whether or not an attorney requested and received authorization from the employee that it is OK for you to give out the information. I would think that unless it is court ordered that you provide the information that you wouldn't have to, nor would you want to release the information. You could unintentionally drag your company into something that you could otherwise have avoided.
  • I have been down the same road. If you are not a party to the action, you need not spend an unreasonable amount of time in gathering records. If it is just a copy of a personnel file, I would send it. If they want too much, I have told attorneys in the past to send an associate to my location and let them make the copies. This gives them pause and makes them pare down their requests to reasonable levels.

    If there is a court action with discovery, there is no doubt they can eventually get their documents with the help of a judge if need be. Cooperate within reason.
  • I just call the attorney and try to figure out what they are really looking for. It helps them and it helps me.
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