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Tell supervisors: You can’t just make up your own performance appraisal standards

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in Employment Law,FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

Employers that let supervisors add to or alter the way they conduct performance appraisals are playing with fire.

For example, supervisors should never be allowed to assess things like tardiness and attendance using anything but official HR records. As the following case shows, letting a supervisor do his own thing is a dangerous practice.

Recent case: Walter Bohl was terminated from his engineering job at age 61 shortly after returning from FMLA leave he took to undergo prostate cancer treatment. While he was off, the company began cost-cutting efforts, and Bohl’s supervisor had to assess all his employees.

The supervisor began with the standard HR evaluation form, but added evaluation criteria of his own. For example, he decided to rate attendance, punctuality, appearance and teamwork. He rated Bohl the lowest overall, and marked him down for poor appearance and attendance.

Bohl filed a discrimination and FMLA retaliation lawsuit.

But when the supervisor had to explain his ratings in court, he couldn’t provide specifics. For example, he told the court that he did not consult attendance records, relying instead on “general observations” based on his office’s proximity to the entrance. He testified that employees had to “walk past the office every day coming and leaving.”

Of course, that method meant he couldn’t know whether an employee was playing hooky or was off on FMLA leave. The court said a jury should decide whether the facts showed FMLA retaliation or interference. (Bohl v. Campbell Haysfeld, No. 1:06-CV-00008, SD OH, 2008)

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