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Carefully document sudden performance slide

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Sometimes an excellent employee who has received great reviews and consistent raises exhibits a sudden performance decline. When that happens, be sure to carefully document the changes in his or her work.

Reason: Should the employee end up suing, you will need concrete evidence that he or she was no longer such a good employee. Suddenly labelling the employee a poor performer will look suspicious if you can’t show exactly what went wrong and when the problems began.

Recent case: Andrew received a series of good performance reviews at work. But then his performance began to slip. His supervisors carefully documented his shortcomings, issued written warnings, told him what he needed to do to improve and generally followed the company’s progressive discipline process.

During that process, Andrew applied for one promotion and two transfers. Each request was turned down. He sued, alleging discrimination.

For the promotion, the employer said he was not picked because his skills were not good enough for promotion. It said his interview was subpar despite past performance reviews showing him to be a good worker. As to the transfers, the employer argued that Andrew was being disciplined at the time in accordance with the progressive plan and this barred transfer. It provided examples of his escalating work deterioration.

The court dismissed Andrew’s case, citing documentation showing that despite earlier good reviews, the employer demonstrated it had reason to discipline Andrew and that under company rules, those actively on a path to increased discipline were not eligible for transfer. (Guyton v. Novo Nordisk, 9th Cir., 2017)

Final note: Be prepared to explain your disciplinary process in detail, including exactly how a worker could move from a good to a poor performance rating.

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