What Are the Legal Issues Associated with Performance Appraisal

An employee may claim that the organization defamed her if the employer provides false and defamatory information as part of the performance evaluation or negligently or intentionally transmits such statements to third parties, such as a potential future employer, thereby exposing the employee to harm or loss of reputation. An employee should have the opportunity to comment on the outcome of their assessment, express consent or otherwise, and appeal the outcome. Defamation can occur when an employee is evaluated for irrelevant and unprofessional conduct, when an evaluator does not contain information that would explain or justify poor performance, or when an evaluator reviews a previous evaluation to justify subsequent adverse actions against the employee. On the other hand, there are likely to be more subjective criteria in the field of professional services – and evaluators should be particularly careful with their wording in these circumstances. With the right training, reviewers can learn how to provide feedback appropriately. Performance reviews often become crucial in labor disputes, said attorney Jeffrey Horton Thomas of Thomas Employment Law Advocates in West Hollywood, California. According to Thomas, reviews become key evidence when a former employee claims that an act of the employer was committed for an illegal reason. Such actions could occur when an employee is overly criticized by superiors, subjected to an unwanted transfer, denied a raise or promotion, demoted or fired. Performance reviews often come into play when employees sue employers for discrimination. Discrimination laws are relatively broad and essentially place everyone in a protected category.

Under federal law, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee on the basis of age (over 40), disability, race, nationality, gender, religion, or pregnancy status. Many States are also adding additional categories to this list. Performance reviews provide a rationale for salary increases, determine whether an employee will be promoted or even retained, and show how employee goals align with your company`s business goals. They are useful for many employment decisions; Making sure they are done correctly and fairly is more than half the battle in terms of legal aspects. Doing it correctly and fairly means that all employees have their job performance evaluated and that you use the evaluation score for each employee for the same reason. For example, it may describe the frequency of appraisals or the frequency with which supervisors and employees meet formally to discuss performance issues. If an employee receives what they believe to be an unfair performance appraisal and the system has not been implemented as intended, they may be able to challenge the system due to negligence on the part of the organization. As soon as an employee has made a claim against you, the evaluation of his performance becomes legally very dangerous. Almost all of an employee`s claims – such as an allegation of discrimination or harassment, or the filing of a workers` compensation claim or a claim for family leave and sick leave – give that worker special protection status. If you give that employee a bad grade, a court may consider it to be retaliation for her claim rather than an honest assessment of her performance.

While retaliation is illegal, it`s not easy to tell the truth about a problematic employee, but you may still need to defend yourself. The exact type of test depends on the type of system used. According to Delaney, reviews that include a certain type of ranking, rating, or category score are easier to verify than, say, a purely summary performance report. If you already have job descriptions for your employees, developing performance evaluation methods costs very little – staffing time is your biggest expense, but you have it for every staffing project. Get sample evaluation forms and determine which one is best for your business. Job descriptions are crucial. You need it to determine the performance standards your employees must meet. Consider the cost of leadership training for supervisors and managers to assess job performance. Educate employees on what to expect when evaluating the project. Your entire workforce needs to understand how the company evaluates performance and why you use performance reviews. Donna Roback, a Minnesota-based attorney and mediator for labor and employers, cites training, or lack thereof, as one of the mistakes employers make in implementing an evaluation system.

Most people are familiar with its typical use – the granting of salary increases – but explain how appraisals can be used to decide who will receive a qualification or professional development. If you have this framework, the legal aspects are practically nil, provided that the supervisory authorities apply them adequately. The Yahoo case illustrates the potential legal dangers of employee reviews. In the Feb. 1 lawsuit, a former manager claims the scoring system could be manipulated based on bias and stereotypes. In an email, Yahoo spokeswoman Carolyn Clark said the company`s system was fair and provided meaningful feedback. An annual or quarterly performance review can be a useful tool for both employers and employees. Done right, appraisals allow managers to provide meaningful feedback to employees to improve their performance. However, if performance appraisals are not done properly, they can lead to serious legal problems for employers and damage morale. As a small business, you`ll likely use the same performance appraisal format for all employees.

If you use different types of performance reviews, make sure you use the same type for employees in similar jobs. For example, if you have five administrative assistants, do not use a narrative or essay rating for three or a graphical rating scale for the other two. It can be prohibitive to implement different types of performance reviews in your organization. However, if you do, use an appropriate format for each type of job and the same format for similar positions. For supervisors, all those performance evaluations done years ago may be a faint memory. But that could change at a time when a labor trial shines a spotlight on one of these assessments. Self-assessments: Employees should self-assess as part of the review process, Frey says. When managers and employees agree on areas for improvement, it`s easier to set performance goals for the future, Frey said.

If they disagree, the supervisor can present their point of view in a constructive manner. In all cases, the employee has a say in the evaluation process. The legal conditions and requirements for performance appraisal systems are similar to all other selection-based tests. Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996 with a background in financial services, real estate and technology. His work has been published in publications such as the Minnesota Real Estate Journal and the Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate. Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Columbia University. Unfortunately, many employee-employer relationships are not broken by a hyphen, but by a lawyer.

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