Say you manage Kevin, a 55-year-old employee whose productivity drops over the year. Instead of citing specific, measurable examples of this decline in his performance review, you note that "Kevin doesn't seem to have the energy level anymore to truly succeed in this department." Still, you rate Kevin's work as "average," the same as last year. That example highlights two of the more common—and legally dangerous—pitfalls in writing performance reviews:
For most managers, conducting effective performance reviews is the most daunting part of their job. Don’t look on it with dread! Make your performance appraisals work for you, not against you with these tools: performance review examples, tips on writing employee reviews, sample performance reviews and employee evaluation forms.
So, your tasked with assessing employee performance and writing performance reviews. Where do you get started?
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Employees who complain about alleged discrimination engage in what is commonly called “protected activity”—and that means they can’t be punished for doing so. Thus, it’s illegal to retaliate against an employee who goes to HR to report possible discrimination. But what about employees who never come forward on their own, but who simply respond to a supervisor’s question about equal treatment? Are they also protected?
Here’s a bit of good news for employers fighting baseless lawsuits: The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has signaled its willingness to allow trial judges to order attorneys’ fees for employers forced to defend themselves from litigation that has no merit.
Employers can terminate employees who are on FMLA leave if the employers are sure they can later prove to a jury that they would have made the decision to terminate whether the employee took leave or not. That’s a tough burden, so you must make sure you have a solid reason—and you must document it.
Before you fire any employee, double-check to make sure others who performed just as poorly or made similar mistakes were also terminated. Doing so may prevent a lawsuit … or, if you are sued, at least provide evidence that you treat everyone alike.
An employee who has been discharged may go looking for some underlying reason other than poor performance to explain why she got the ax. And she may suddenly remember incidents that now seem awfully a lot like sexual harassment. Your best defense to such charges is a robust harassment and discrimination policy that tracks every complaint.
It's no secret that employees gossip about pay. And it's no secret that those conversations often cause resentment and tension in the workplace. Wouldn't it be great if you could forbid employees from discussing compensation? Don't even think about it until you've read this comprehensive guide to the requirements of the National Labor Relations Act.
Talking with employees about their performance problems can be an uncomfortable moment for any manager. But it’s also a crucial part of the job and, if done well, will ultimately make a manager’s job much easier. Here are seven steps to planning and executing such discussions:
One easy way to cut down on lawsuits when you have to fire an employee: Have the same person who hired or last promoted the employee also make the final decision on termination. Courts often conclude that it would make no sense for those who hired or promoted someone to turn around and fire that same person for discriminatory reasons. This is called the “same-actor” defense.
The ADA requires employers to enter into an interactive process with disabled employees to find accommodations that allow them to perform the essential functions of their jobs. Recently, the federal government updated its Job Accommodation Network (JAN) web site, which employers can use to to find specific accommodation information.