Law Office of Nancy Grim

Northeast Ohio Employment Attorney

Nancy Grim, LLC
Kent Wells Sherman House
247 N. Water Street
Second Floor
Kent, Ohio 44240
Phone: (330) 678-6595
Fax: (844) 270-7608

Nancy Grim Weekly

Topic of the Week  Personnel Files

Personnel files are the employer’s record of your employment, and the documents that employers collect can negatively or positively affect you and your future employment. Federal law does not require employers to grant access to personnel files, but some states have laws which do provide for access. While other documents may not be part of your official personnel file, it is best to personally keep track of as many files as you are given, such as the documents you’re given when you’re hired, the company’s employee handbook, your reviews and disciplinary documents, and any other documents that you have signed or received from the employer. By doing this, you will have some of the original paperwork and you do not have to ask your employer about these documents, as some employers either deny access entirely, do not allow employees to make copies, or require employees to pay for copying any document they take from their personnel files. 

1. What information should not be part of my personnel file?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits medical records from being part of the personnel file. This also includes records related to medical leave, reasonable accommodations, drug testing results, insurance benefits forms, workers’ compensation claims, etc. Documents that contain information such as date of birth, marital status, dependent information, Social Security number, immigration status, national origin, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and criminal history should also be kept in a separate file. This includes I-9 Forms.


2. Do I have the right to access my personnel files?

It depends. Personnel files are considered the property of the company, and federal law does not guarantee a right to access your personnel file. However, some states have laws relating to personnel files laws that grant or deny an employee access to his or her own personnel files. In addition, some employers have their own policies in regard to employee personnel file access. The employer’s policy may be found in the employee handbook, or you could ask the HR department about the company’s policy.


3. Can I remove something from my file that belongs to me?

Never take documents or papers that don't belong to you. Never even attempt to access information, either on computer or in company files, that you have no right to know. Anything that is personal to you, such as letters of praise or thanks that were sent to you, can be removed, but do so cautiously, as it may be better to copy it then remove it from your file. Anything related to the company or the operation of the company and its business, however, should not be taken without permission.While it may be tempting to take confidential company records or access computer files without authorization, this is a big mistake for a number of reasons. First of all, it may be illegal and you might end up facing criminal charges or civil claims as well as trying to fight your termination. Second, it may give the company an excuse to fire you where none existed before. Even if you can prove that you were illegally fired, your employer can use your misconduct to severely limit your ability to recover money or obtain re-employment in a lawsuit. Finally, if you signed a so-called "confidentiality agreement" at the time you were hired, taking confidential documents could subject you to civil action for breach of contract.

Thought of the Week

"I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability."

–Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Dora Cervantes

Throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, the AFL-CIO will be profiling labor leaders and activists to spotlight the diverse contributions Hispanics and Latinos have contributed to our movement. Today’s profile covers Dora Cervantes.

Top Five News Headlines

  1. 'This Is Too Much': Working Moms Are Reaching The Breaking Point During The Pandemic
  2. Google’s $310 million sexual harassment settlement aims to set new industry standards
  3. How to talk about mental health with your boss
  4. Disney is laying off 28,000 employees as pandemic hammers its theme parks
  5. Some Workers Face Looming Cutoffs in Health Insurance

List of the Week

from Washington Center for Equitable Growth

This report examines the relationship between unemployment levels and minimum wage violation rates during the Great Recession to better understand what policies are needed to protect workers’ rights during the coronavirus recession. 


Our analysis of a random sample survey of registered voters in California from April 16 to April 20, 2020 found that:

  • 35% of respondents who were working at the time of the survey reported that they would not be paid if they were to get sick with COVID-19 despite the state’s long-established paid sick leave protections.
  • 50% of respondents in households that make less than $60,000 per year believed that they would not be covered by paid sick leave protections.
  • 38% of Latinx respondents believed that they would not be covered by paid sick leave protections.