Under the Illinois Personnel Records Act, an employee may request in writing that the employer permit him or her to inspect any personnel documents that have been or may be used in determining the employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation, discharge, or other disciplinary action. The employer must grant at least two inspection requests within a calendar year. The right of inspection does not apply to letters or reference, employment test documents (although test scores may be seen), materials related to the employer’s “staff planning” including business development unless those materials are used to determine an individual employee’s qualifications, and certain employer investigatory or security records relating to employee criminal conduct. The law applies to active employees, employees on leave of absence or layoff who are subject to recall, and employees who have left employment within the last year.
Upon request, an employee has the right to submit a written explanation of any statement in his or her file if the employer will not agree to remove or change that statement, as well as obtain a copy of all or part of the information contained in his or her file. Furthermore, an employer is prohibited from divulging and disciplinary report, letter of reprimand, or other disciplinary action to a third party unassociated with either the employer or the employee’s bargaining agent, without giving written notice to the employee by first-class mail. However, an employee may waive such written notice by a written, signed employment application form with another employer.
If an employee is denied his or her right under or an employer otherwise violates the Act, the employee can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor or commence an action in court if the Department fails to act. Furthermore, many collective bargaining agreements are board policies do allow an employee access to his or her files, including the right to review, to make copies, and to place in the file written rebuttals to misleading or false information. If your collective bargaining agreement does not include such rights, this may be an item to be considered in future bargaining.