I want to take legal action against my former employer but I need documents from them, are they in any way obligated by law to give them to me?

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I want to take legal action against my former employer but I need documents from them, are they in any way obligated by law to give them to me?

The documents I want to ask them for are my attendance records and things like that so those documents will be only pertaining to me.

Asked on January 6, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

An employer's personnel files are its property, not the employee's property. As a general matter, the employer is under no obligation to provide them to anyone else, including the employee him- or herself.

If the employee brings a legal action, then, in that case, he or she could use the legal mechanism of "discovery" (e.g. written interrogatories or questions; notices to produce documents; subpoenas) to obtain the documents assuming that they are relevant to the action (as they very likely would be). Therefore, you can't get the documents first, to review them before deciding whether to sue or not; you have to sue first, then use the tools of litigation (discovery) to obtain the documents.


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