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Access to Personnel Files in New Jersey

Must your employer show me what’s in your file?

Most employers keep some sort of “personnel file” for each of their employees.  Such files may contain evidence of disciplinary actions, annual reviews, employment applications, and a whole host of other material.  While most employees want to know what’s in their file, most employers are unwilling to tell them.

Many states have laws guaranteeing employees the right to inspect or copy their personnel files.  Unfortunately, New Jersey is not yet one of them.

The fact that employees have no right to inspect their files, however, shouldn’t stop you from asking (nicely) to see yours.  It is possible that your employer has a formal or informal policy allowing such inspection.  And if you make your request in order to prove that your employer has been discriminating against you and are fired for making the request, you may have a good case against your employer for illegally retaliating against you.  See Velantzas v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., 109 N.J. 189 (1988).

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