MICHIGAN LAW

Michigan has a law that regulates the content, access, and use of personnel file information. This law allows an employee to review, copy and correct of their personnel record information. The law is known as the Bullard-Plawecki Employee Right to Know Act. It can be found on the books at MCL 423.501 et. seq.

WHAT IS A PERSONNEL RECORD?

This law contains a definition of what records must be kept in an employee’s personnel file and what records may be exempted from a personnel file. This is the definition:

(c) "Personnel record" means a record kept by the employer that identifies the employee, to the extent that the record is used or has been used, or may affect or be used relative to that employee's qualifications for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation, or disciplinary action. A personnel record shall include a record in the possession of a person, corporation, partnership, or other association who has a contractual agreement with the employer to keep or supply a personnel record as provided in this subdivision. A personnel record shall not include:

(i) Employee references supplied to an employer if the identity of the person making the reference would be disclosed.

(ii) Materials relating to the employer's staff planning with respect to more than 1 employee, including salary increases, management bonus plans, promotions, and job assignments.

(iii) Medical reports and records made or obtained by the employer if the records or reports are available to the employee from the doctor or medical facility involved.

(iv) Information of a personal nature about a person other than the employee if disclosure of the information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of the other person's privacy.

(v) Information that is kept separately from other records and that relates to an investigation by the employer pursuant to section 9.

(vi) Records limited to grievance investigations which are kept separately and are not used for the purposes provided in this subdivision.

(vii) Records maintained by an educational institution which are directly related to a student and are considered to be education records under section 513(a) of title 5 of the family educational rights and privacy act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. 1232g.

(viii) Records kept by an executive, administrative, or professional employee that are kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record, and are not accessible or shared with other persons. However, a record concerning an occurrence or fact about an employee kept pursuant to this subparagraph may be entered into a personnel record if entered not more than 6 months after the date of the occurrence or the date the fact becomes known.


WHAT METHOD CAN EMPLOYEES USE TO ACCESS THEIR PERSONNEL FILE AND HOW OFTEN CAN THEY USE THIS METHOD?

An employee who wishes to review and/or obtain copies of their personnel file may do so by submitting (by mail or hand delivery) a written request for their personnel record. The law requires an employer to permit an employee to review and/or obtain copies of their personnel file at reasonable intervals, generally not more than twice in a calendar year. The employer is required to allow the employee to access the record at a location reasonably near the employee’s place of employment during normal office hours. However, the employer is not required to allow access during their employees hours of work and can provide some other reasonable time for review of the file instead of excusing the employee from the employee’s regular work hours. If the employee is unable to review the personnel record at their employer’s location, their employer must mail a copy of the record to the employee.

The written request for access to or copies of a personnel file should be detailed enough to inform the employer who the employee is and exactly what the employee requests. The typical request for a personnel file is found in the form below. Certified mail is not required by the law but recommended. 


EMPLOYEE PERSONNEL FILE REQUEST FORM


Certified letter number: _____________________________________

I, (Place your name here)__________, request my (If no longer employed, type in (“former”) employer, (Put in name of employer here) allow me to inspect and receive copies of any and all information in my personnel record I am entitled to receive under Michigan Law. I am making this request under the Michigan Employee Right To Know Act. I request that this opportunity be provided to
me no later than ( There is no time limit in the law, but you should give them a reasonable
time to respond. I suggest 14 to 21 days from the day it is sent)__________.

                                                                          
(sign name and print name below line)

S.S.#________________________________

(put address here)

___________      

                            


COST OF ACCESS TO FILE 

An employer must allow the employee to 'inspect' their file free of charge. However, if an employee requests copies of documents in the file the employer may charge for the actual incremental cost of the copies. 


CORRECTING INACCURATE PERSONNEL FILE INFORMATION

An employee who disagrees with information contained in his or her personnel file has the right to request the employer to remove or correct that information. The employer and employee may be mutually agree to removal or correction.

If employer and employee cannot reach an agreement, the employee may submit a written statement explaining his or her position. The statement may not exceed five sheets of 8.5-by-11-inch paper and must be included when the disputed information is divulged to a third party and as long as the disputed information is a part of the file. 

If either the employer or employee knowingly places in the personnel record information that is false, a lawsuit can be filed seeking to have that information expunged.


LEGAL ACTION TO ENFORCE REQUIREMENTS OF THE EMPLOYEE RIGHT TO KNOW ACT

An employee or an employer may file suit to enforce the requirements of the "Employee Right To Know Act". The suit may be brought in the circuit court located in the county where the employee lives, works, or where the personnel file is maintained. A court may order the employer to comply with the act and punish failure to comply as contempt. A court order may also be entered expunging knowingly false information placed in the file by either the employee or the employer. The party that prevails in securing an order is entitled to recover actual damages plus costs. Proof of a willful and knowing violation of the act allows the prevailing party to collect actual damages of at least $200 or more plus costs and reasonable attorney fees.