Most of the time, employers can win discrimination cases by showing that the same “actor” hired and fired an employee. Courts generally assume that the employer’s stated reason for discharge is the true reason and not an excuse to cover up discrimination. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can be loose with your discharge reasons.
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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Q. We have an employee who was out six months with a heart condition. He has had performance problems on and off since then. Now we face a morale issue because he constantly talks about his illness, and his co-workers feel he isn’t performing. If we terminate him, what is the best approach?
Do you have a manager who wants to discipline an employee who just requested a reasonable accommodation under the ADA? Before you approve the discipline, make sure the manager can document past problems or that the discipline is warranted based on a serious rule infraction that has happened since the request.
Employees who take FMLA leave or engage in other protected activities sometimes look for signs their employer is illegally punishing them. They interpret every legitimate request for improvement as retaliation. Fortunately, courts are beginning to reject those frivolous claims.
Sometimes, employees think all it takes to keep from being fired is a well-timed complaint alleging discrimination, harassment or retaliation. That, they reason, will scare an employer into overlooking poor performance or even criminal behavior. Don’t fall for it.
Some employees are under the mistaken impression that merely asking for FMLA leave means they cannot be fired. That’s simply not true. Employees who take FMLA leave don’t have greater rights than other employees.
Florida employees are protected from retaliation for whistle-blowing, but courts have been limiting what they consider to be blowing the whistle. For example, in one recent case, a court concluded that a co-worker’s attempts to report a fellow pharmacy worker’s lax prescription practices was not whistle-blowing.
One of the worst things you can do after you terminate an employee is change the reason for ending the employment relationship. Instead, decide on a defensible rationale—a performance problem or rule violation, for example, or perhaps a business downturn—and document that decision and all the supporting evidence.
Soon after Gary Lizalek was hired at a Wisconsin medical firm, he informed the company that he believed, as a matter of religious faith, that he was three separate beings. The company fired all three Lizaleks. He sued, saying the company failed to accommodate his religious beliefs.
If your organization doesn’t have a solid performance evaluation system in place, you’re taking a high-stakes gamble you just might lose. Discharged employees who sue will have a much easier time getting to a jury trial if you can’t produce performance evaluations that back up why you terminated them.