Wisconsin Employees’ Right to Review Their Personnel File

In Wisconsin, employees have a right to review their personnel files two times per calendar year under Wisconsin Statutes 103.13. This law similarly permits even former employees and applicants to inspect their personnel records. The law specifies that the employer must permit the employee to inspect “any personnel documents which are used or which have been used in determining that employees qualifications for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation, termination or other disciplinary action, and medical records, except as provided in subs. (5) and (6) ….” An employee may request all or any part of his or her records. An employee also has the right to inspect his or her medical records held by the employer. There are 7 specific categorical exceptions to this right–these exemptions are for records relating to: investigation of criminal offense by that employee; letters of reference; test documents; staff management planning documents; private information of another person; records relevant to a pending claim between the subject and the employer which may be discovered in a judicial proceeding; if the employer does not maintain any personnel records). The employer may require that the request to review the records be made in writing. The employer must make the records available within 7 days. The inspection is to take place at the place of employment or a place reasonably nearby. Modification of the time and place may be made if doing so is not objected to by the employee. Inspection or review includes the right to a copy at the employees expense, but the charge may not be more than the actual cost of reproduction. If an employer violates this right, the Equal Rights Division of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development will accept a complaint, investigate it and demand the employer’s compliance.

Attorney Gordon Leech

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