Ann Kiernan replies:
Most states have legislation spelling out the terms under which employees are allowed to inspect their personnel files. In your state, California, under Labor Code Section 1198.5, employees are allowed to inspect their personnel files, including all documents related to their qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, termination, or discipline, but not records relating to the investigation of a possible criminal offense, letters of reference, or ratings, reports, or records that were obtained before the employee’s employment. In addition, under Labor Code Section 226(b), employers are required to permit current and former employees to inspect or copy their own payroll records. There’s a 21-day period for compliance, so you may want to check with the California Department of Industrial Relations or a local employment lawyer for additional guidance.
Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.