California Employment Law
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To provide you with accurate information, could you please clarify these points:
business is a close helf family corporation. a ranch.
2. I asked to see past employee contracts to get an idea of what was done in the past and was refused "because I can't give out that information unless the employee releases it in writing." Two of the past employees' contracts that I want to see are deceased.
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QUESTION: "Is she right?"
ANSWER: The ultimate answer is "it depends", rather than an absolutel "yes" or "no". Here is what I mean by that admittedly ambiguous answer. It all comes down to whether this is a business law inquiry or an employment law matter. Your post struck me as being in the former category primarily as you mentioned corporate law. Certainly, as you correctly and astutely mentioned, the law provides broad rights of access to records by corporate directors (officers) as codified in California Corporations Code § 1600(a) and elsewhere. Note the "absolute right" statutory language. On the other hand, we certainly do have certain privacy components of the employment laws such as California Labor Code § 1198.5 and California Civil Code §§ 56.05(b) and 56.20(a). So, what is the best answer? In my estimation, it comes down to the following inquiry. Are you an employer? If so, then you are certainly entitled to access personnel records of past and/or present employees. Otherwise, you are going to be coming up against resistance such as you have already encountered. If you are not an employee, it would be a rather simple matter (especially given the nature of your corporate structure) to pass an appropriate resolution to make clear your official capacity.
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