Oregon employees have a legal right to see and obtain copies of their personnel records. This page hits the highlights.
WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: This article is no substitute for legal advice, and it is insufficient to understand your rights and obligations.
Q. May I see my own personnel records?
A. Yes. Oregon employees have a legal right to the personnel records. Employees may request personnel records any time. However, one might want to consider the pros and cons of so doing if you are still working there. On the other hand, if you are fired, there’s little downside: request your records as soon as possible.
Q. How do I request my personnel records?
A. Just ask whoever is in charge of the records. If you E-mail (compared to calling) then you have a record of when you requested. Simply write, “Dear Jane, Please send me a complete, certified copy of all my personnel records.” If you think time and pay records might be useful, add those to the request. “Dear Jane, Please send me a complete, certified copy of all my personnel records and all available time and pay records back to 2023.”
Q. Which personnel records must the employer disclose?
A. Here’s what the law says:
“the personnel records of the employee that are used or have been used to determine the employee’s qualification for employment, promotion, additional compensation, employment termination or other disciplinary action and time and pay records of the employee for the period required by [wage laws]”
Oregon’s law specifically allows employers to NOT provide records on any conviction, arrest, investigation of criminal conduct and confidential reports from previous employers. Also, some different rules apply to Oregon’s public universities.
Overall, what an employee might expect to see in the personnel records include the following:
- Your application and resume.
- Promotions and pay increases
- Performance reviews and supervisor notes, and disciplinary actions, including termination.
Often, employers hold back anything they think Oregon law does not require them to provide to employees. If the employee ends up suing the employer, then the other records may be obtained through the litigation process.
Q. I asked for my personnel records, and my employer wants to charge me for them. May they charge me?
A. Yes, Oregon law lets employers charge employees for the actual cost to provide the records. If the cost is too high, then the employee may request to inspect them at the place of employment.
Q. I asked for my personnel records, and I still have not received them. Is there a time deadline?
A. Yes. Employers must produce the records within 45 days of the request.
Q. I asked for my personnel records, and the employer said he trashed them. Really? Can they do that?
A. Yes and no. Some Oregon personnel records need only be kept for 60 days. Employers must keep some other records longer, including payroll and time records.
If you have legal questions about your termination, feel free to contact me with them. If I think I can be of assistance, I will let you know.
Good luck as you work through your big transition.
Reference: ORS 652.750