Employee Performance Evaluations

Employee Performance EvaluationsWhile not legally required, most employers in New York and New Jersey have a process to evaluate employee job performance. These processes range from informal evaluations to very formal review systems.

Performance reviews can vary greatly from company to company, and even from supervisor to supervisor. However, typically employers evaluate employees in various performance categories, using either a numerical system or categories such as “meets expectations,” “exceeds expectation” and “needs improvement.” Performance reviews also frequently include a narrative description of the employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement.

While reviews are most often prepared by an immediate supervisor, some companies have employees prepare self-evaluations for their supervisors to review and revise. Other businesses use additional forms of evaluation such as “360 degree reviews” in which supervisors, peers, and other employees provide feedback about the employee’s job performance.

What Should I Do if My Performance Evaluation is Unfair or Inaccurate?

Performance evaluations almost always include subjective opinions. As a result, it is common for employees to disagree with their evaluations. It also is not unusual for a supervisor to unfairly or inaccurately assess an employee’s job performance.

There is no one right or wrong way to respond to an inaccurate performance evaluation. Depending on the situation, it might make sense to speak directly to your supervisor, talk to someone in the Human Resources Department, or submit a written response. Of course, when doing so it is important not to be insubordinate or disrespectful to your superiors, or to do anything else that could jeopardize your future with your employer.

If you are asked to sign your performance review, you should read it carefully first. Generally, if you believe your performance review is inaccurate you should not sign something that says you agree with it. However, there usually is no harm in signing something that merely confirms you received and read your review, as many employers require.

Depending on the situation, you might want to submit a response or rebuttal to your performance evaluation addressing the specific items you disagree with and explaining any special circumstances that might apply. In fact, many forms include a place for employees to include comments or responses. As noted above, you should be careful not to say anything that is insubordinate or likely to get you in trouble.

While you do not necessarily have a legal claim just because your company unfairly evaluated your job performance, an unfair or inaccurate assessment often can be a symptom of unlawful discrimination, retaliation, or another legal claim. As a result, it may be a good idea to talk to an employment lawyer to evaluate whether your legal rights have been violated.

Performance Improvement Plans

In theory, a Performance Improvement Plan (or “PIP”) is intended to help a struggling employee improve his or her job performance. However, PIPs frequently are used to help justify demoting or firing employees. In those instances the company may set unreasonable goals or deadlines, provide little or no support to help you improve your work, or otherwise set you up for failure.

If you are placed on a Performance Improvement Plan you should take it very seriously since it is a warning sign that your job may be in jeopardy. In fact, you may want to speak to an employment lawyer to figure out the best way to protect your job.

Contacting an Employment Law Attorney

We welcome you to contact us if you would like to speak to one of our employment lawyers about your performance review, Performance Improvement Plan, or another issue related to your job. Please contact us online or call us at (973) 744-4000.