Employment Law: Former Employee May Not Inspect Personnel File, Pennsylvania High Court Rules

September 20, 2017 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that a terminated hospital employee was not entitled, under the commonwealth's Employment Records Law, to inspect her personnel file, because the act's definition of “employee" excludes former employees. The Act provides that an “an employer shall, at reasonable times, upon request of an employee, permit that employee or an agent designated by the employee to inspect his or her own personnel files used to determine his or her own qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, termination or disciplinary action . . ." The former employee had worked at the defendant hospital as a nurse-anesthetist. One week after the hospital terminated her employment, she asked to view her personnel file. The hospital denied the request, taking the position that it had no legal obligation under the Act to allow former employees to access their personnel files.

The former employee filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor (DOL), seeking access to her records under the Act. The DOL interpreted the Act to mean that former employees who ask to inspect their files within a “reasonable time" following their termination are covered by the Act and that...

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