Does it sometimes seem like your office is nothing but a giant filing cabinet overflowing with paper?
Before you decide to throw out old evaluations and files, consider this: An employee may sue and refer back to those evaluations from memory. If she remembers nothing but positive until a recent poor appraisal (engineered, she believes, to get her fired), you’ll need to be able to show that her employment history wasn’t as rosy as she remembers.
If you must get rid of paper files, digitize them first, and then make backup copies. Keep performance reviews and any files that support them (e.g., disciplinary memos and the like) for the duration of employment, plus whatever additional period your attorneys recommend.
Recent case: Houda Chawki worked as a high school math teacher until she was fired for . Chawki claimed she had never performed poorly, and that the bad review was punishment for backing another employee’s discrimination claim just a few weeks before time.
But the school district had her past evaluations, which were mixed. Because of that, the court said the timing alone wasn’t proof of retaliation. (Chawki v. NYC Board of Education, No. 07-5083, 2nd Cir., 2009)
Final note: Don’t skip evaluations, either. A sudden evaluation after missing prior reviews looks suspicious. Decide how often employees will be evaluated and put the dates in your tickler system.
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