Because poor performance is often advanced as the reason for a termination, the performance appraisal system is often the crux of the defense against a wrongful termination suit. Here’s how to make sure your appraisals hold up.
One common claim is from an employee who claims that he or she was given a low rating because of membership in a protected class (race, sex, age, religious belief, national origin, veteran status, disability).
To fight these claims, employers may consider three steps:
Another common claim is that the employee never knew what was expected. Sharing expectations and results is part of fairness. Juries want to know, Did the employee get a chance to improve? Did the employee know what the consequences of poor performance were?
Many legal problems of appraisals are indirect. For example, documentation issues and inflated ratings.
It’s a frequent problem in court that an employer has terminated an employee for poor performance and then the performance appraisal has a block checked “poor” with out supporting evidence or documentation. That makes defending the suit tough.
Even worse—the appraisal can’t be found at all. (This is surprisingly and annoyingly frequent.)
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Another legal problem that plagues performance appraisals is the problem of inflated ratings. These are a lawsuit waiting to happen. Positive or neutral ratings will confound your attempts to explain adverse actions you based on poor performance.
Imagine yourself—perhaps on the witness stand—explaining that a termination was due to incompetence or poor performance or poor attitude. Then the defense attorney produces a string of recent performance appraisals—that you signed—indicating “satisfactory.” (Or, worse, “excellent.”)
Either you were lying when you filled out the appraisal or you’re lying now. Either way, your credibility is shot.
What can you do to make sure your leaders—every manager and supervisor on the org chart—take their leadership roles seriously? There’s only one way—train, train, train.
It’s no secret, one of the primary reasons people leave their jobs is poor management. By developing good managers you can help reduce turnover, improve morale and increase production, and that’s to say nothing of avoiding appraisal-based, expensive lawsuits.
How can you go about training your leaders? It’s never easy to find the time or the money, but leadership training has a tremendous ROI value for employers.
The Leadership Library provides you with a sensible (and economic) solution.
The Leadership for Managers and Supervisors Library is a Web-based training tool that can be utilized by any organization. All you need is a computer and Internet access, and the library is open 24/7.
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The Leadership Library trains your managers on the fundamental skills required for successful team management and organizational communication.
The courses cover a range of leadership and managerial topics, including the following:
This turnkey service requires no setup, no course development time, no software installation, and no new hardware. Your employees can self-register, and training can be taken anytime (24/7), anywhere there is a PC and an Internet connection. Courses take only about 30 minutes to complete.
The Employee Training Center automatically documents training. As trainees sign on, their identifications are automatically registered. When the program is completed, the trainee's score is entered. So, when you want to see who has been trained on any subject, or look at the across-the-board activity of any one employee, it's all there, instantly available.
Course certificates can be automatically generated from within the training center and are automatically retained for recordkeeping purposes.
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