Recently terminated employees have no right to access their personnel files, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled.




In a unanimous June 20 decision in Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals v. Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the justices found that the Inspection of Employment Records Law did not entitle Elizabeth Haubrich to review her file because the act’s definition of “employee” excludes former employees. The opinion referred to the law as the Personnel Files Act.

“Reading the Personnel Files Act according to its plain terms, we conclude that former employees, who were not laid off with re-employment rights and who are not on a leave of absence, have no right to access their personnel files pursuant to the act, regardless of how quickly following termination they request to do so,” Justice David N. Wecht wrote for the court.

The law’s definition of an employee able to request access to their personnel file includes “any person currently employed, laid off with re-employment rights or on leave of absence,” and notes that it does not include applicants for employment “or any other person.”

Reference: Ben Seal, Pennsylvania Law Weekly, 40 PLW 578

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