Chapter 12: University Records, Privacy, and Access to Information

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12.C Personnel Records

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Personnel files are maintained for different purposes in various administrative units throughout the University. Personnel files or records are governed by regulations established by the University including bylaw 14.07 (discussed in section 12.A “General Principles”) and SPG 201.46. SPG 201.46 also defines “personnel record.” These policies are designed to protect the privacy of information contained in individual personnel files to the extent permitted by law.

In addition, the Bullard-Plawecki Employee Right to Know Act, MCLA 423.501 et seq., grants to employees the right to inspect their own personnel files. Personnel records are any records identifying an employee that are kept by an employer and are used to determine an employee’s qualifications for employment, promotions, transfers, additional compensation, or disciplinary action. There is certain information which the Act does not require be disclosed to an employee including, among other things, employee references that would identify the person making the reference, medical reports and records made or obtained by the University if the reports and records are available to the employee from the doctor or medical facility involved, and personal information concerning someone other than the employee if disclosure would be a clearly unwarranted invasion of the other person’s privacy.

Employees may review their own University personnel files located in the Office of Human Resources Records and Information Services (HRRIS) in the presence of a representative from that office. Personnel records maintained by schools, colleges, and other units are also available for inspection as required by law and pursuant to the policy established by the unit.

Another individual’s personnel file is available to members of the University community only when it is needed in fulfilling University functions. Records or information from personnel files may be made available to individuals or agencies outside the University only if such action legitimately serves the purpose of the University and the staff member consents or if the University is required by law to release them. (As indicated above, “personnel record” is defined in SPG 201.46.)

Requests for information in personnel files from government agencies or other investigatory bodies, or through court order or subpoena should be referred to the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel. As noted in section 12.B “Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)” requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) should be referred immediately to the FOIA office. Decisions in the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court have limited the ability of the University to protect information contained in personnel records from disclosure under FOIA. If disclosure of a staff member’s files is required through any of these means, the University will make all reasonable efforts to notify the staff member as quickly as possible, unless such notice is prohibited by law.

Information published in the University of Michigan Directory and the online directory called “MCommunity” is available to any member of the general public. Faculty and staff can elect to withhold their home addresses and home telephone numbers from being published in these directories by contacting the Records and Information Services office, 4073 Wolverine Tower, or on the medical campus by contacting, Staff Records, Medical Center Employment Office, 300 N18A04. Faculty may obtain copies of the University of Michigan Directory through their academic units.