Section 52C. As used in this section, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:—
“Employee”, a person currently employed or formerly employed by an employer; provided, however, that for purposes of this section, persons who are employed, or were formerly employed, by a private institution of higher education in positions which may lead to tenure, are tenured, or which involve responsibilities similar to those in tenure-track positions, shall not be considered employees.
“Employer”, an individual, corporation, partnership, labor organization, unincorporated association or any other legal business, public or private, or commercial entity including agents of the employer.
“Personnel record”, a record kept by an employer that identifies an employee, to the extent that the record is used or has been used, or may affect or be used relative to that employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation or disciplinary action. A personnel record shall include a record in the possession of a person, corporation, partnership or other association that has a contractual agreement with the employer to keep or supply a personnel record as provided in this section. A personnel record shall not include information of a personal nature about a person other than the employee if disclosure of the information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of such other person’s privacy. Without limiting the applicability or generality of the foregoing, all of the following written information or documents to the extent prepared by an employer of twenty or more employees regarding an employee shall be included in the personnel record for that employee: the name, address, date of birth, job title and description; rate of pay and any other compensation paid to the employee; starting date of employment; the job application of the employee; resumes or other forms of employment inquiry submitted to the employer in response to his advertisement by the employee; all employee performance evaluations, including but not limited to, employee evaluation documents; written warnings of substandard performance; lists of probationary periods; waivers signed by the employee; copies of dated termination notices; any other documents relating to disciplinary action regarding the employee. A personnel record shall be maintained in typewritten or printed form or may be handwritten in indelible ink.
An employer shall notify an employee within 10 days of the employer placing in the employee’s personnel record any information to the extent that the information is, has been used or may be used, to negatively affect the employee’s qualification for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation or the possibility that the employee will be subject to disciplinary action. An employer receiving a written request from an employee shall provide the employee with an opportunity to review such employee’s personnel record within 5 business days of such request. The review shall take place at the place of employment and during normal business hours. An employee shall be given a copy of the employee’s personnel record within 5 business days of submission of a written request for such copy to the employer. An employer shall not be required to allow an employee to review the employee’s personnel record on more than 2 separate occasions in a calendar year; provided, however, that the notification and review caused by the placing of negative information in the personnel record shall not be deemed to be 1 of the 2 annually permitted reviews.
If there is a disagreement with any information contained in a personnel record, removal or correction of such information may be mutually agreed upon by the employer and the employee. If an agreement is not reached, the employee may submit a written statement explaining the employee’s position which shall thereupon be contained therein and shall become a part of such employee’s personnel record. The statement shall be included when said information is transmitted to a third party as long as the original information is retained as part of the file. If an employer places in a personnel record any information which such employer knew or should have known to be false, then the employee shall have remedy through the collective bargaining agreement, other personnel procedures or judicial process to have such information expunged. The provisions of this section shall not prohibit the removal of information contained in a personnel record upon mutual agreement of the employer and employee for any reason.
An employer of twenty or more employees shall retain the complete personnel record of an employee as required to be kept under this section without deletions or expungement of information from the date of employment of such employee to a date three years after the termination of employment by the employee with such employer. In any cause of action brought by an employee against such employer of twenty or more employees in any administrative or judicial proceeding, including but not limited to, the Massachusetts Office of Affirmative Action, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, Massachusetts Civil Service Commission, Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission, attorney general, or a court of appropriate jurisdiction, such employer shall retain any personnel record required to be kept under this section which is relevant to such action until the final disposition thereof.
If an employer of twenty or more employees elects to have a written personnel policy regarding the terms and conditions of employment, such personnel policy, as the same may be amended from time to time, shall be continuously maintained at the office of such employer where personnel matters are administered.
Whoever violates the provisions of this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than five hundred nor more than twenty-five hundred dollars. This section shall be enforced by the attorney general.