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When and How Should You Remove a Disciplinary Write-Up from Personnel Files?

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Human Resources

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/// Guest post by contributor Jerry Leemkuil, Federated Insurance

When and How Should You Remove a Disciplinary Write-Up from Personnel Files?

Today Federated Insurance is sharing one of our “HR Questions of the Month” regarding employment-related practices liability issues. 

Question: An employee was written up for calling out sick but the employee had a doctor's note excusing them from work. What is the legal way to withdraw a write-up from an employee's file?

Response: Absent an employment contract, including a collective bargaining agreement, that addresses this issue, there is no federal or state law that governs here. If the employer has determined that it issued a disciplinary action in error, it has discretion to determine whether/how to handle such situation and should adhere to its policy and past practice in this situation. If this is the first situation of its kind, the employer can determine how to approach the issue but should be cognizant of the precedent being set so that it follows suit in any subsequent similar scenarios.

If the employer seeks to expunge the disciplinary action so that there is no record of it, such that the employee's file appears as though it was never issued, we are not aware of any reason why the employer cannot simply remove it from the file and dispose of it. If the employer wants to maintain a record of the write-up but does not want it to have any impact on the employee or the employment relationship, it can leave the write-up in the employee's personnel file and attach a note to it explaining that it has been effectively (though perhaps not physically) removed. The latter approach may be desirable if, for example, the employee did not provide proper notice in advance of the absence when he or she should have done so.  In this situation, while the disciplinary action remains on file as evidence that the employee failed to adhere to company policy by providing proper notification of an excused absence, once he or she did so the employer can note that the write-up was effectively "removed" even though it physically remains in the file (again with an attached document to indicate the "withdrawal").

{Guest Post} Guest post provided by Jerry Leemkuil, Federated Insurance. For more than a century, Federated Insurance Companies has provided peace of mind to business owners through valued insurance protection. Learn more about Federated Insurance.

The opinions and advice given by guest post contributors are not necessarily those of NATSO Inc. The posts should not be considered legal advice. Qualified professionals should be sought regarding advice and questions specific to your circumstances.

This article is intended to provide general information and recommendations regarding risk prevention only. There is no guarantee that this information will result in reduced losses, lower premiums, or lower experience modification factors. The content provided is accurate as of February 2015 and is subject to change. This information may be subject to regulations and restrictions in your state and should not be considered legal advice. Qualified counsel should be sought regarding questions specific to your circumstances and applicable state laws. © 2016 Advisors Law Group, All Rights Reserved

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About the Author

Jerry Leemkuil

Jerry Leemkuil

Jerry Leemkuil is Field Manager in the Association Risk Management Services Department at Federated Insurance. In his current role, Jerry oversees relationships with over 150 recommending associations and numerous prospect associations.  He has provided professional presentations to many of the association partners Federated works with, including numerous “Affordable Care Act” updates.

During Jerry's 23 years with Federated, he has worked exclusively in the marketing and association relationship areas. He has coordinated and developed many of Federated’s association relationships across the country. Prior to being named Field Manager in Association Risk Management Services, Jerry spearheaded the development of the Commercial Health Team. 

Jerry, his wife Lisa, and their two daughters reside in Owatonna, MN.