Employees search for the pot of gold – how not to get pinched by an employee’s request for information.

Q:        It seems that I do not have the luck of the Irish this St. Patrick’s Day.  I just received a request from a former employee for his entire personnel file and wage statements.  I am concerned that this employee is searching for gold at the end of a rainbow in the form of a lawsuit against my company.  Do I have to provide this employee his personnel file and wage statements?

A:        Unfortunately, yes.  Pursuant to Labor Code section 1198.5, an employee has a right to inspect personnel files, and Labor Code section 226 requires employers to provide copies of the information required to be contained on wage statements.  In 2013, the Legislature expanded and clarified these inspection rights.  The law now provides that copies of wage information can be in the form of computer-generated information.  An employer must provide copies of the personnel file upon request. Additionally, an employee may designate a representative to receive the information.

As the employer, you have 30 calendar days from the date you receive the request to provide copies of the personnel file pursuant to Labor Code section 1198.5.  But, you only have 21 days from the date of the request to provide copies of the wage information pursuant to Labor Code section 226.  There is a $750 penalty for non-compliance to each statute.

It is likely that your employee may be seeking some green by making this request.  Often these requests precede a demand letter or civil lawsuit.  This is particularly true if it comes from a former employee.  Therefore, upon receipt of such a request, in writing or orally, make sure you contact your employment attorney as quick as a leprechaun to properly comply with these laws.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the BMJ employment law team!

This Legal Update / Bulletin is for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The hypothetical question is posed to illustrate a point and does not contemplate all potential legal considerations This update should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.



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