Last week, the Colorado House Judiciary Committee amended a bill that would have drastically changed Colorado’s law—or lack thereof—regarding employee personnel files. HB15-1342, introduced April 7, 2015 by Joseph Salazar from Adams County (House District 31), would require private employers to permit employees to copy or inspect their personnel files. As introduced, the bill carried stiff penalties for employers who refused to produce documents from the personnel file, including attorneys’ fees for a current or former employee who obtained a court order requiring production of documents from the personnel file or a motion to compel production in a civil action in which the documents would be relevant. It also provided penalties of $100 per day for every day after 30 from the date an employee requests to inspect or copy his or her file. Further, it allowed an administrative law judge to assess a penalty of up to $10,000 if an employee demonstrated an employer intended to conceal documents that should have been in the file at the time of the request. With the major penalty provisions struck from the bill, it goes forward with the following elements intact:
- Private employers (except financial institutions) would be subject to a written request by an employee or former employee to inspect or request copies of his/her personnel file at his/her own expense. The request would not apply to any files required to be separate by federal law.
- Inspection/copying would occur within 30 days of the employer’s receipt of the request, during normal business hours, at or near the current or former place of employment.
- Examination of the personnel file would be limited to once a calendar year, unless disciplinary action had been taken subsequent to the most recent access.
- Current and former employees could contest any negative information found in their files in written form, which would be included in any disclosure to a third party.
- Information not included in the personnel file at the time of inspection or copying would not be usable by the employer at a proceeding.
- Certification by the employer, through a written letter attached to the copies, would confirm all documents had been made available. The certification would also state whether the employee or former employee chose not to copy certain documents.
MSEC will continue to follow this legislation as it moves through the Colorado House and Senate to monitor changes that would impact our members. The Colorado General Assembly will adjourn on May 6, 2015.