Public employees in Ohio may review and copy their personnel file, as well as put rebuttals in the file to answer unfair information.

There is no law giving private sector workers the right to see their own personnel files.

If you have a union, you have many more rights. Your union contract may give you additional rights to review your file, have copies, or remove unfair information. Ask a shop steward or representative. Personnel files can almost always be reviewed during a grievance or discipline. Information in your file can be very important during discipline or promotion.

FOR PRIVATE SECTOR WORKERS

You do not have the right under state law to see your personnel file. First, investigate if your employer has a policy that employees can review their personnel files (check your employee manual and ask other employees). If there’s no policy which says employees can review their file, it’s still worth asking. It may be best to ask verbally (maybe you’ll be allowed to review your file without the person you are asking checking for approval). Decide who is most likely to let you see the file, probably either HR/Personnel or your supervisor. You can also read “How to Review Your File and What to Expect."


FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

The rules:

  • All public workers (state, county, city, town, and school district) have rights under this law.
  • You (or anyone your give written permission to) can review your personnel file.
  • Your employer is allowed to make reasonable rules about reviewing personnel files, but they must give access and copies in a reasonable amount of time. Ask the Personnel or HR office what the procedure is for reviewing your file.
  • If there is no procedure on how to review your file, ask in writing and keep a copy, so you have proof that you asked. You can use the request form on this page.
  • You can ask for the copies to be mailed. You can be charged the costs of copies, materials, and postage. You can be asked to pay before copies are mailed.
  • This law does not include a right to see medical records or records of confidential investigations by law enforcement.
  • If there is something in your file that is incomplete, wrong, irrelevant, or out of date, you should first ask that the information be taken out of your file or corrected.
  • The agency has to investigate and decide if there is a problem with the information.
  • The agency has to tell you the result of the investigation and what they are going to do within 90 days.
  • If the information is not removed or corrected, you can put a short rebuttal in the file (explaining why it is wrong). Your statement must be kept in your personnel file and attached to the document any time it is used. You can use the form on this page when you submit a rebuttal statement.

NOTE: The Ohio Public Records Act lets members of the public ask for public records. The law specifically prevents giving out home addresses and family information for peace officers, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs, parole officers, assistant and prosecuting attorney, correctional employees, and youth services employees.

The Law: Right to review and have copies of a personnel record: Ohio Public Records Act, Ohio Revised Code 149.43 Right to put a rebuttal into a personnel file: Ohio Revised Code 1347.09

How the law is enforced: You have to bring a “mandamus action” in County Common Pleas Court. If you win, the agency that refused to give you access to your file can be ordered to pay for your lawyer’s fee.

If you have a union, you have many more rights if your rights are violated. Talk to a shop steward or union representative.