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rights to personnel records?

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What is the name of your state? IN

My mother and I now live in another state, but while she was working in Indiana, she quit a job. Although the circumstances upon her quitting weren't the best, her direct supervisor is agreeing to give her a good reference. We're now trying to get her on her feet again and are trying to compile a resume, collect references, etc. The personnel officer at the job where she quit is saying that she doesn't have a right to her personnel records. What we really want is a job description for the position she held so that we can describe her position on her new resume. Do we have a legal right to her records? And either way, is there any reason why we shouldn't be allowed to have a copy of her old job description?



Senior Member
cbg (a regular responder here) will, I'm sure, advise us whether your mother is entitled to a copy of her personnel file under Indiana law. But a job description is a company document, is very likely not part of your mother's personnel file, and the company does not have to give her a copy.

Lots of companies don't give out copies of job descriptions. For one thing, they don't know what that document might be used for. It may seem innocuous to you but an employer never knows when releasing a document like that may come back to haunt them.


I'm a Northern Girl
Indiana has no statute regarding the release of personnel records to employees, so it is entirely up to the company whether they do so or not. But even if they do, it is entirely likely, and legal, that there will be no copy of her job description there. For one thing, although there are several valid reasons why it is a good idea to have them, nothing in the law requires that they have written job description at all. For another, even when a written job description does exist, then barring a contract that says otherwise an employer is legally free to change, amend, or even totally disregard that description when it comes to assigning job duties.

Why does she need a copy of her job description in order to write her resume? She knows what she did on the job, doesn't she? That's all she needs. Few of us use company job descriptions when putting our resume together or filling out applications. For employment purposes, what she actually did is more important than what the formal job description says. There is frequently little connection between the two.

BTW, you didn't ask this but I'll pass it on for free. You mention "collecting" references. Be advised that written references are very easily forged and as a result, many employers. including myself, are not interested in them. I don't want a written reference; I want the name and business phone number of a person I can talk to directly and ask specific questions of. If you're collecting these, fine, but if you're collecting written references, that may not be the best way to go.


I appreciate your response, Beth3 and CBG. You asked why we need her job description. (1) Because I have no idea what terminology is best to use and (2) neither does she. She's able to do the work, but not able to describe it with all the buzz words that make a job description sound good. She's had dozens of mini strokes (she's recovering well), and basically needs help to get on her feet again. I've been browsing job descriptions on the web, and I think she and I can piece something together from them.

Thanks, in particular, for the information you provided regarding her personnel file. I'm baffled that an employee may not have a right to their employment records, but I'm not in human resources and may not know all the issues.


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