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Connecticut Toughens Law Granting Access to Personnel Files

On July 26, 2013 by Schnader in Labor and Employment

By Scott J. Wenner

Under Conn.Gen.Stat. §31-128b, employees in Connecticut are permitted to inspect their personnel files within a “reasonable time” after a request is submitted.  Effective October 1, 2013, this mandate will be subject to rigorous time limits, and expanded to require employers to permit employees, and former employees, to inspect and, if requested, copy their personnel file, and will require employers to provide employees copies of disciplinary documents promptly.

New Time Limits; Inclusion of Former Employees.   Under §31-128b as newly amended,  employers will be required to permit current employees to inspect and copy their personnel file within seven business days after receipt of a written request from an employee.  Further, a new right is created for former employees, who will be able to inspect and copy their personnel file within ten business days after receipt of a written request

New Affirmative Obligations. Another new requirement imposed by the amendment to §31-128b will  obligate employers (i) to provide employees with copies of any documentation of disciplinary actions imposed on them within one business day of imposition; and (ii) to immediately provide any documented notice of termination to an employee whose employment is being terminated.  In addition, new  §31-128e will require employers (iii) to include in any documented disciplinary action, notice of termination and performance evaluation, in clear and conspicuous language, a notice that the employee may submit a written statement of his or her position if the employee disagrees with any information in such documentation for inclusion in the employee’s personnel file.

As enacted, the amendment does not obligate employers to create any documents.  Instead, it imposes requirements to provide to affected employees copies of any documentation of disciplinary action and termination of employment that the employer chooses to create.  The new obligations on access to personnel files, notices in disciplinary documents and performance evaluations, and providing copies of disciplinary and termination notices will further complicate the landscape for national and multi-state employers, already dealing with a patchwork of state laws regulating the employment relationship.