Office of the General Counsel

State Personnel Files

What is a State Personnel File?

The State Employee Personnel Records Privacy Act (N.C.Gen.Stat. § 126-22 to -30) defines State Personnel Files as any information gathered by a state agency (UNCG is a state agency) which employs an individual "wherever kept and in whatever form" that relates to the individual's application, selection or nonselection, promotions, demotions, transfers, leave, salary, suspension, performance evaluation forms, disciplinary actions and termination of employment. Thus, an employee's "official" personnel file located in either the Office of Human Resources (SPA and EPA-Non-faculty) or in the Provosts Office (faculty) may only contain some of the employee's personnel records. Others may be kept by the employee's department, department head, etc.

Do I have the right to see my personnel files?

Yes. As a general rule the employee, an applicant for employment, or a former employee of UNCG (from now on I'll use the term "employee" to mean all of these categories), may examine all of his or her own personnel files except for pre-employment letters of reference and medical or mental health records that a prudent physician would not divulge to a patient. In the latter case, the records may be disclosed to a licensed physician designated in writing by the employee.

Does the general public or the news media have a right to see my personnel files?

No. However, each state agency (including UNCG) must maintain a record for each of its employees showing the employee's

  • name,
  • age,
  • date, of original employment or appointment,
  • current position and title,
  • current salary,
  • date and amount of most recent increase or decrease in salary,
  • date of most recent promotion, demotion, transfer, separation, or other change in position classification,
  • and the office to which the employee is currently assigned.

The agency must allow any member of the public to view this information upon demand.

Does anybody else have the right to look at my personnel records?

Yes, the law allows the following persons to examine a state employee's personnel files:

  • Anyone who has the consent of the employee,
  • the employee's supervisor,
  • a person with a court order,
  • federal or state officials where necessary to carry out a proper function (e.g. to investigate discrimination charges), BUT NOT for the purpose of assisting in a criminal prosecution or tax investigation,
  • and, anyone who the Chancellor authorizes when necessary to maintain the integrity or proper functioning of the University (e.g. an attorney defending the University against claims of discrimination by the employee.)

Is there any penalty for unauthorized disclosure of personnel records?

Yes, it is a Class 3 misdemeanor

Is there a penalty for falsifying information in the personnel file such as on an application for employment?

Yes. An employee who falsifies information in his or her personnel file can be disciplined up to and including dismissal. It may also be a criminal offense in some cases.

Is there anything an employee can do if the employee believes that information in the personnel file is wrong?

Yes, an employee who objects to material in his or her file may place a statement in the file relating to the objectionable matters. In addition, the employee may seek removal of the material from the file by following the appropriate SPA, EPA Non-faculty or faculty grievance procedures. If the employee's grievance is successful, then the materials will be removed from the personnel file and destroyed.

As a supervisor, I'm often asked to give references about my former subordinates. What am I allowed to say?

This is one of the trickiest questions to answer, partly because the law is changing. However, as a general rule, unless you have express written consent from the former employee to say more, you should limit the information you give a prospective employer to that material which is generally available to the public. Anything else may lead to charges of defamation, interference with contract, and violation of the State Personnel Records Privacy Act.

I have other questions that you haven't answered.

Please contact the General Counsel's office at 334-3067 or

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