Magazine article HRMagazine

Should an Employer Combine an Employee's Personnel Files after He or She Leaves the Company?

Magazine article HRMagazine

Should an Employer Combine an Employee's Personnel Files after He or She Leaves the Company?

Article excerpt

No. Many employers believe that once an employee leaves the organization, the guidelines for separating employee personnel files no longer apply. But that's not the case: Personal information must remain confidential.

Various federal and state laws provide guidelines on this. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's technical guidance for the Americans with Disabilities Act states that "All information obtained from post-offer medical examinations and inquiries must be collected and maintained on separate forms, in separate medical files and must be treated as a confidential medical record. Therefore, an employer should not place any medical-related material in an employee's personnel file." The guidelines don't state that those requirements cease after an employee leaves.

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects information such as medical records and other data that contain identifiable health information. Medical records can include pre-employment medical exams, workers' compensation history and documentation of a disability. HIPAA doesn't distinguish between active and terminated employees.

Immigration forms contain information, such as national origin and citizenship status, that could be used in a discriminatory manner and shouldn't be accessible to supervisors. …

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