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Meet the new boss, who is entitled to set new expectations regardless of past measures

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Sometimes, a long-term and apparently successful employee may not adjust well to a new supervisor—especially if that supervisor brings new or different performance expectations about the employee’s job.

That may mean the worker’s performance appraisals will suffer. It may even mean the employee is eventually discharged for poor performance, despite a prior history of on-the-job success.

As long as you document the new supervisor’s expectations and how the employee actually performed, chances are the worker won’t win if she files a lawsuit after her termination.

Recent case: Marsha worked as an administrative coordinator for a dental school. She received good performance reviews for years while working under the supervision of one dean. Then he went on sabbatical and Marsha found herself dealing with a new boss.

Marsha’s new boss had more stringent requirements for his subordinates. She soon found herself earning low evaluation scores. Eventually, the dental school terminated her.

Marsha sued, alleging several forms of discrimination.

But the dental school outlined the new supervisor’s expectations and showed that Marsha fell short. Marsha couldn’t come up with examples of discrimination to counter the stated discharge reason—poor performance that didn’t measure up to the new supervisor’s expectations. Marsha’s case was dismissed. (Heit v. Penn Dental Medicine et al., ED PA, 2017)

Final note: Don’t assume a worker with a stellar record of past performance is untouchable, even without a change in supervisors. As long as you document declining performance, it’s unlikely a court will second-guess your assessment.

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