Beware issuing completely negative performance reviews

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in Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Performance Reviews

Supervisors often come down hard on underperforming employees during regular performance reviews. But sometimes, completely negative appraisals can come back to haunt you if the employee later sues.

Most juries are suspicious of negative reviews; they’re more likely to believe that you terminated the employee fairly if you include some positive feedback.

Recent case:
John Donovan sued his former employer, alleging that the reasons the employer gave for his discharge were just a pretext for retaliation. His former supervisor testified to both negative and positive aspects of Donovan’s job performance, and the jury concluded he had been fired for legitimate reasons.

He appealed, but the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals wouldn’t buy his argument that the positive comments meant that the negative ones were just a pretext to retaliate against him. (Donovan v. Malverne, et al., No 08-1694, 2nd Cir., 2009)

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