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Raise Doesn’t Prove Employee Was Succeeding

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in Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

Q. About three months ago, we gave a marginal employee who is pregnant a pay raise in hopes that it would improve her job performance by boosting her morale. Unfortunately, her performance has gone from bad to worse. If we fire her for poor performance, can she successfully argue that the recent raise indicates that she was performing well and that our reason for terminating her was discriminatory? —H.K., Illinois

A. Fortunately, several courts have said that just because an employee receives a raise shortly before termination, this doesn't necessarily provide a pretext for discrimination. According to one court, it's the employee's performance at the time of the discharge that matters.

Moreover, an employer may have different reasons for giving raises despite performance. For example, it may be giving across-the-board pay increases or, as in your case, be attempting positive reinforcement. Thus, a recent salary increase alone doesn't necessarily indicate that you were satisfied with the worker's performance.

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