The number one mistake that almost all employees make is not keeping their employment records. If you find yourself contemplating suing your employer over wages or discrimination, having records of your employment can be useful. Even though some records may be available from your employer, some information may never reach your employment file. For example, if your employer makes you work off the clock, it won’t have records of hours worked. You will have to rely on your own records for that information.
Limitations of employment records in Texas
As a Texas employment lawyer I recommend people keep as much information about their employment as possible; but I also realize that there is a limit to how much paperwork anybody can keep. With the ability to scan and store documents electronically it’s easier to keep these records but since employers are moving increasingly towards only making documents available in digital formats fewer people are taking home copies of documents. I recommend against storing these documents in hard copy at work where they may not ever come home with you and not assuming they will always be available in digital formats from your employer.
Here are key documents you should keep in either paper or digital copies at home or at another personal location:
- Copies of pay stubs with notes of any incorrect payments and what steps you took to correct them for at least three years
- Time sheets with notes of any incorrect times and any missing time recorded that you worked and what steps you took to correct the time, going back at least three years
- Copies of all disciplinary paperwork
- Copies of all merit reviews and any periodic reviews
- Any letters offering you a job or promotion
- The job advertisement or description for each job you applied for, whether hired/promoted or declined
- Any paperwork given during a termination, lay off, or voluntary job separation, including severance agreements
- Copies of all benefit statements and benefit descriptions
- Notes of any workplace discrimination against you
- Documents related to any formal leave requests
- Any documents, emails, or certificates, that show good job performance – you don’t have to keep every positive email but any that say you did a great job should be kept
- Any documentation of raises or merit-based bonuses
- Notes of workplace injuries with dates and any follow up activity you or the employer took
Employment records in Texas
It can be cumbersome to make sure all this paperwork makes its way home but these documents could easily be the difference between prevailing and losing. Employers often will not keep all of these documents and may “lose” some documents. After you leave an employer you will almost certainly lose access to most of these documents and they may be destroyed after a certain amount of time. Don’t rely on your employer to make it easy for you to sue them. Take a few minutes each week to collect these documents, take them home and keep them in an organized place.