Do Employers Have to Provide Employees Access to Their Personnel File Upon Request?

Do Employers Have to Provide Employees Access to Their Personnel File Upon Request?

September 1, 2015

Under Florida law, employees in the private sector do not have an inherent right to view their personnel files, though some employers do provide individual access to personnel files pursuant to internal policies.

In contrast, public sector employees have a legal right to view their personnel files by virtue of Florida’s open records statute, i.e. the Sunshine Law.  In fact, with certain exceptions, even third parties can obtain access to public employee personnel files.  Though public employers cannot outright refuse access to personnel files, they can charge reasonable administrative costs and fees for duplication.

Public sector employers who refuse access to personnel files or insist upon the payment of unreasonable fees as a precondition to access may face lawsuits by aggrieved employees for an injunction to compel access.  Prevailing employees are entitled to the recovery of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.  As such, public employers are best advised to implement policies and procedures to ensure that reasonable requests for personnel records are properly expedited.