On December 3, 2010, Arbitrator Goodfellow held that the following collective agreement language does not require the physical removal of expired disciplinary documentation from an employee personnel file:
ARTICLE 8 – ACCESS TO FILES
8.01 – Access to Personnel File
Each employee shall have reasonable access to his/her personnel file for the purpose of reviewing any evaluations or formal disciplinary notations contained therein, in the presence of the Director of Labour Relations & Human Resources or designate. An employee has the right to request copies of any evaluations in this file.
8.02 – Cleaning of Record
Any letter of reprimand, suspension or any other sanction will be removed from the record of an employee eighteen (18) months following the receipt of such letter, suspension or other sanction provided that such employee’s record has been discipline free for one year. All leaves of absence in excess of ten (10) calendar days will not count toward either of the above periods.
Arbitrator Goodfellow appears to rely most strongly on the apparent distinction drawn in the above language between a “record” and a “personnel file.” More broadly, he says, “any such physical ‘removal’ would be secondary to the primary purpose of any sunset clause, which, in our view, is to preclude Employer reliance on stale discipline, except in the kind of limited circumstance(s) to which the Union refers [e.g., to rebut an affirmative statement made by an employee about having a clean record] .”