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Stick with objective assessments to ensure your processes aren’t swayed by bias

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in Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

Assessing employee performance or potential using subjective measures is one of the fastest ways to wind up in court. Employers that stick with objective, carefully tailored assessments are much less likely to lose bias lawsuits because there’s little chance for hidden bias to creep into the process.

Recent case: William Tsai, who is a native of Burma (now Myanmar), frequently filed grievances against his employer, tallying up 30 such complaints. He also filed four discrimination complaints with the EEOC. He settled all the legal actions and received $10,000, a raise and a transfer to another division.

A year later, he asked to apply for reclassification to a higher pay grade. His supervisor approved his request.

The agency then analyzed his position using a standard process referred to as the position appraisal method (PAM). PAM uses eight neutral factors such as experience and job responsibilities to decide whether a job is properly classified. The agency said the position was correctly classified.

Tsai sued, alleging retaliation for bringing the earlier complaints.

The court tossed out his case, reasoning that by using neutral factors, there was no way the agency could allow discriminatory motives to influence the process. (Tsai v. Maryland Aviation, No. 07-1511, 4th Cir., 2008)

Final note: Objective factors are those that can easily be quantified and categorized, such as educational attainment, years of experience, job responsibilities held and training achieved. Subjective factors are subject to interpretation and include soft measures such as “loyal” and “team player.” The more objective factors you use, the better.

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