“Does a former employee have a legal right to see her former employer’s Employee Handbook?”

Question: I was recently laid off from my job, and have an internal dispute process coming up in the next several weeks. I am in the process of preparing for it.

I have asked numerous times for a copy of the company’s employee handbook which I signed for when I first started employment. The company refuses to give me a copy since I am no longer an employee.

My question is do I have a right to a copy of something I signed for, and what recourse can I take to obtain a copy?


Answer: Bree, as a resident of Connecticut, it seems you may be in luck. While I am not licensed to practice law in Connecticut, I did a bit of research and found that Connecticut has a law that helps people in your circumstances.

Connecticut Law on Personnel Files (Section 31-128b) provides that “Each employer shall, within a reasonable time after receipt of a written request from an employee, permit such employee to inspect his personnel file if such a file exists.”

“Employee” is defined in the law as “any individual currently or formerly employed” by the employer.

“Personnel File” is defined in the law as “papers, documents and reports pertaining to a particular employee which are used to or have been used by an employer to determine such employee’s eligibility for employment, promotion, additional compensation, transfer, termination, disciplinary or other adverse personnel action.” While this definition does not specifically mention “employee handbooks,” it would seem to include them.

I suggest you write to your company’s CEO or President, and make the request once again, citing this law, and mentioning that HR has so far refused to abide by it. Send your request to the CEO or President by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, or Federal Express. Make sure to mark it “Personal and Confidential,” as that usually makes sure it is opened and read, even if by one of the CEO’s or President’s assistants.

To read our newsletter article on “How to View Your HR File” [click here.]

If you would like to obtain a “model letter” to assist you with Requesting Review of Your HR File [click here.]

Go ahead, give it a try. I think you’ve got a good chance of being successful. Please let us know how you’ve done. Thanks for writing in. Hope you’re enjoying the blog.

Best, Al Sklover

Late Summer /  Early Fall. Send a “Bonus Expectations Memo” to Your Boss. It can be very helpful. To obtain a Model, [click here.]

P.S.: If you would like to speak with me directly about this or other workplace-related subjects, I am available for 30-minute, 60-minute, or 120-minute telephone consultations. (Even 5-minute “Just One Question” calls). Just [click here.] Evenings and weekends can be accommodated.

©  2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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