DuPont engineer Godwin Igwe filed a discrimination lawsuit, claiming the company denied him bonuses and promotions because of his national origin. But DuPont successfully defended the suit because its records showed that Igwe said he understood and accepted his demotion because of funding cuts in his department. (Igwe v. DuPont, No. 05-1621, 3rd Cir., 2006)
Advice: If you ask employees to respond to their evaluations, keep copies of their written responses and take notes on the oral comments. If those comments acknowledge shortcomings, your notes could become a key document if the employee ever sues for discrimination. The same goes for bonuses: If the employee acknowledges that he understands why he didn't earn a bonus, chances are he won't be able to claim discrimination later.