Correcting an inaccurate information in personnel file

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Anonymous User
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Correcting an inaccurate information in personnel file

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 26, 2020 7:05 am

About 5 months ago, I received a verbal warning for allegedly harassing a coworker through text messages and was threatened to be removed from a case. I did not understand what the conduct was based on or the statement was about, but the Firm insisted that it happened so I basically ate shit and apologized. Recently, it came to my attention while talking to this said coworker that he did not make a formal complaint, that when he raised the text message issue, no one took a look at the text messages, and that he didn't actually say that it was harassment--only that he was stressed out.

I in fact have ALL of the text messages, and despite the allegation that the texts were "ongoing and outside of work", they are 90% about logistics while on business travel with 10% about me bitching about work. When this incident blew up, the partner I work most closely stood up for me, the managing partner got involved, and eventually the complaining associate was removed from the case instead. At my performance review, I was able to tell "my side" of the story about my evaluation of the coworker and various other team issues. The complaining associate plans on leaving the Firm (unrelated to the "harassment" but he has had numerous issues regarding performance over the year or so) and the partners are on notice. At least on the surface, I maintain a good relationship with the partner I work with the most and my rate of interaction with the partners has not decreased. I've been put on pitches and receive "mentorship".

I am LIVID over this, and I suspect the fact that I received a "complaint" and that I received a "verbal warning" is probably on record now, and I'm trying to figure out the best course of action moving forward. I am OK eating shit and swallowing my pride, but I do not want this to have jeoparidized my future here. Should I seek to correct the record, move on and stay at the firm, or seek other firms (obviously once COVID lifts).

Anonymous User
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Re: Correcting an inaccurate information in personnel file

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 26, 2020 9:50 am

First off, just a disclaimer that this is not legal advice, and you should speak with an employment attorney if this is a genuine concern of yours.

Access to personnel files, and your ability to make some level of correction is governed by state law. There is no federal law that requires a private employer to even let you see your personnel file, let alone make a change to it. And most state do not require employers to provide access to personnel files. However, a number of states do require employers to provide access, and some employers may just have a policy of granting access, even in states where it isn't required.

The issue you are concerned with is actually making a correction to it. Some states allow employees to add a note in their personnel file if something in the file is wrong. That doesn't mean the info you refute is erased or removed. It remains in the file, albeit with your note as well. But again, whether you can see your personnel file and possibly input such a note depends on state law, as well as your firm's policies.

Anonymous User
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Re: Correcting an inaccurate information in personnel file

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 26, 2020 10:10 am

OP here. I think the bigger question for me is given that my goal is to make partner (here or elsewhere), does it make sense for me to rehash this event or is the risk that this event will come
Up later is low (and the concurrent risk that I be reprimanded for bringing this up again now is high) that I should move on.

Anonymous User
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Re: Correcting an inaccurate information in personnel file

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 26, 2020 10:16 am

What year are you currently? If you are years away from partnership conversation, I would think its probably fine to leave it in the past. Put a few years' distance between you and this incident without any further issue and I would think that would go a long way. But again that is just my hunch. Also, as mentioned in my earlier response, it all depends on which state you are in anyway since you may not even have the option of correcting the file.

Anonymous User
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Re: Correcting an inaccurate information in personnel file

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 26, 2020 11:27 am

OP here. I am at least 3-4 years away from partnership. Thank you for your thoughtful response by the way.

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The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Correcting an inaccurate information in personnel file

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Tue May 26, 2020 11:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:27 am
OP here. I am at least 3-4 years away from partnership. Thank you for your thoughtful response by the way.
Just let this lie. It sounds like you're not a pariah or anything and this incident will be ancient history by then, especially if the complainant was unpopular and left camp for unrelated reasons.

If you get passed over for partner, this might get brought up as a surface-level excuse, but it won't be the real reason. Assuming isolated incident, no hint of racism or any other aggravating factors in what happened between you and the coworker, etc., this is pretty tame compared to what many biglawyers do on a monthly basis. But they still make partner if they're bringing in the $$$.

Anonymous User
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Re: Correcting an inaccurate information in personnel file

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 07, 2020 4:16 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:39 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:27 am
OP here. I am at least 3-4 years away from partnership. Thank you for your thoughtful response by the way.
Just let this lie. It sounds like you're not a pariah or anything and this incident will be ancient history by then, especially if the complainant was unpopular and left camp for unrelated reasons.

If you get passed over for partner, this might get brought up as a surface-level excuse, but it won't be the real reason. Assuming isolated incident, no hint of racism or any other aggravating factors in what happened between you and the coworker, etc., this is pretty tame compared to what many biglawyers do on a monthly basis. But they still make partner if they're bringing in the $$$.
OP here — I was recently denied discretionary benefits citing that I was not in good standing because of this complaint. Does this change the calculus?

FedFan123

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Re: Correcting an inaccurate information in personnel file

Post by FedFan123 » Sun Jun 07, 2020 4:30 pm

What kind of benefits? That’s too vague to really gauge in this context

Anonymous User
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Re: Correcting an inaccurate information in personnel file

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 07, 2020 5:29 pm

FedFan123 wrote:
Sun Jun 07, 2020 4:30 pm
What kind of benefits? That’s too vague to really gauge in this context
It was a loan program

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ChickenSalad

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Re: Correcting an inaccurate information in personnel file

Post by ChickenSalad » Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jun 07, 2020 4:16 pm
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:39 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:27 am
OP here. I am at least 3-4 years away from partnership. Thank you for your thoughtful response by the way.
Just let this lie. It sounds like you're not a pariah or anything and this incident will be ancient history by then, especially if the complainant was unpopular and left camp for unrelated reasons.

If you get passed over for partner, this might get brought up as a surface-level excuse, but it won't be the real reason. Assuming isolated incident, no hint of racism or any other aggravating factors in what happened between you and the coworker, etc., this is pretty tame compared to what many biglawyers do on a monthly basis. But they still make partner if they're bringing in the $$$.
OP here — I was recently denied discretionary benefits citing that I was not in good standing because of this complaint. Does this change the calculus?
That you were denied a discretionary benefit is less concerning than the fact that you’re considered “not in good standing” with the firm. That’s a red flag though

We can’t really tell you a whole lot because theres a lot we don’t know.

Edit: after reading OP again, why do you believe what the associate told you about his report? Of course he is going to downplay it to you after the fact and suggest he didn’t say it was harassment, just “stress.”

Also, there’s probably not much that showing the texts will do. He got removed from the case. He said he felt harassed.

Anonymous User
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Re: Correcting an inaccurate information in personnel file

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:42 pm

I would consider lateraling. This is the kind of thing that can really come back to hurt you if the partners want it to.

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