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Ask the Lawyer By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.

| November 19, 2017


QUESTION: A former employee wrote to my office asking for her personnel file under something called the Bullard-Plawecki Right-to-Know Act. Her file is huge. Do I have to send it to her?

ANSWER: The Bullard-Plawecki Right-to-Know Act is Michigan’s employment equivalent to the Freedom of Information Act. Under the law – also known as MCL 423.501– your former worker does have a right to access relevant material in her personnel file; but you are not under an obligation to send her a free copy of the entire thing. In fact, there are parts of an employee’s personnel file that are specifically excluded from the law’s coverage.

Material employee can access: An employee’s personnel record includes information that is used, or has been used, or that might affect “the employee’s qualification for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation, or disciplinary action.” This would include the employee’s resume, any additional certifications earned, attendance record, any performance reviews, recommendations or evaluations, promotions, transfers and salary/pay increases, as well as any disciplinary writeups, or warnings. Medical reports and records obtained by the employer do not need to be available to the employee if the employee can obtain the same information from the doctor or medical facility involved.

Material your employee cannot access: Information that might affect the privacy interests of others, or reveal confidential information about the employer may be excluded from the file. These include (but are not limited to) employee references supplied to the employer, if the identity of the person making the reference would be disclosed; materials about the employer’s staff planning if it involves more than one employee, especially where it includes information on salary increases, bonus plans, promotions or job assignments; information of a personal nature about someone other than the employee; information kept separately about an employer’s investigation of the employee for suspected criminal conducti, or materials relating to a grievance investigation.

In order to obtain a personnel file, an employee must make a written request. You don’t have to send a free copy; employers are allowed to charge a reasonable fee “limited to the actual incremental cost of duplicating the information.” On employee request, an employer must provide an “opportunity to periodically review” the file at reasonable interview. The review should take place near the employee’s place of work, and during normal office hours. An employer may allow the review to take place at another time or location that would be more convenient to the employee.

If you are still unsure which documents should be included and which should be excluded, you may wish to consult an attorney. The lawyers at GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC are experienced attorneys and are happy to answer your questions. Give us a call for a free initial telephone consultation about your legal needs. For consideration of your questions in our web column, please submit your inquiry on the “Contact Us” page of our website at

Information provided on “Ask the Lawyer” is current as of the date of publication. Laws and their interpretation are subject to change. The material provided through “Ask the Lawyer” is informational only; it should not be considered legal advice. Submitting a question to “Ask the Lawyer” does not create an attorney-client relationship between the person submitting the question and GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC. To view previous columns, please visit our website.

GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC, is a Troy based law firm representing clients from Warren, Sterling Heights, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Oak Park, Oakland and Wayne Counties and all of Southeast Michigan

By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
901 Wilshire Drive, Suite 550
Troy, MI 48084
(248) 247-3300
(248) 247-3310 facsimile

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