Can My husband get copy of his work file after being terminated from a job?

My husband was terminated from his job as a lead man for something that one of his employees did that he had no clue the employee was doing. We feel that he was wrongfully terminated because the company had just gave him a pay raise, he has never been giving a warning or been written up for anything the whole 2 years the company has been open. So we was wondering if he can go to the company and get a copy of his work file to take to an attorney to see if we are able to do anything about this?

Asked on May 9, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you are putting the cart before the horse: the company has no obligation to give your husband his work file (which may be about him, but which is the employer's property) so he can evaluate whether he should sue. Rather, the only way to get a copy (unless the company voluntarily chooses to provide one) is to sue and then, in the course of the lawsuit, use the legal mechanisms of "discovery" to access the file. So, it is not review file, then sue; it is sue, then review the file.
Bear in mind that termination is VERY rarely wrongful. Unless your husband had a written employment contract, he was an "employee at will" and could be terminated at any time, for any reason (even unfair or frankly stupid ones), without prior warning. (If your husband had a written employment contract and the employer violated it, he could sue for breach of contract.)
If your husband was an employee at will, his termination would almost certainly be legal, unless he was terminated due to a protected characteristic, the main ones of which are race, national origin, age over 40, sex, religion, or disability. If your husband feels he was fired for one of these reasons, he should contact the EEOC.
 


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