Magazine article Security Management

Investigations. (Judicial Decisions)

Magazine article Security Management

Investigations. (Judicial Decisions)

Article excerpt

Investigations. Maine's highest court has ruled that records pertaining to an internal investigation are part of an employee's personnel file and must be disclosed to that individual upon request.

Nancy Harding was terminated from her employment at a Wal-Mart store in Palmyra, Maine, for unauthorized removal of company property. Her termination was the result of an investigation conducted by an in-house loss prevention supervisor, James Bryant. In his investigation, Bryant interviewed several witnesses and obtained statements. He also interviewed Harding and asked her to write a statement.

After the investigation was closed, Bryant gathered the witness statements and his notes and kept them at his home. In accordance with Wal-Mart policy, Bryant did not put copies of the investigative material in Harding's personnel file.

Harding first called and then wrote to the store manager to request a copy of her personnel file. In the written request, she specifically asked for the documents relating to the investigation. Wal-Mart responded by giving her documents on her evaluations, pay scale, and employment application. The company also provided a copy of her exit interview, which stated the reason for her termination. Harding then filed a lawsuit claiming that the records on the investigation were part of her personnel file and should be released to her on request.

The Maine District Court ruled that the records in the investigation were part of Harding's employment record under state law and ordered Wal-Mart to provide copies. …

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