Former Employee Requests Personnel File

Under Iowa law, what obligation does the employer have to the former employee when s/he contacts employer and requests a copy of his/her personnel file, as well as all performance evaluations throughout his/her employment? This employee was terminated for poor performance in December 2010.



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  • Great question!

    We not only cover this topic for all 50 states in [url=][i]Fifty Employment Laws in Fifty States[/i][/url], but coincidentally, the cover article for this month's issue of our monthly multi-state newsletter [i][url=]Employers State Law Alert[/url][/i] is an in-depth discussion and comparison of different states' employer responsibilities when employees ask to review personnel files.

    There is no federal law requiring employers to give employees access to their personnel files, which leaves regulation of this subject to the individual states. More than half of the states do not grant private-sector employees the legal [i]right[/i] to review their files, which leaves the decision up to the individual employers and their internal policies.

    In Iowa, "employees" have the right to examine and copy personnel files. Access to those files is limited to times when the employer and employee have mutually agreed to permit access, and employers may charge a reasonable fee for copies. The employer may also have a representative present during the examination.

    Does this apply to former employees? Well, Iowa Code defines "employee" as "a natural person who is employed in the state for wages by the employer." So the law doesn't specifically list details for former employees. Nonetheless, our Iowa ECN attorneys inform us in the [i]Fifty Employment Laws[/i] manual that Iowa employers generally extend the same inspection rights to former employees that they do for current employees.
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