Most of us are aware that our performance at work is constantly being judged. Many of us are even subject to periodic performance evaluations during the course of our employment. While it is not always the case, these evaluations can and often do directly correlate to promotions, demotions and terminations. Unfortunately, these evaluations can sometimes be the result of bias on the part of the employer. New Jersey employment lawyer Hope A. Lang regularly assists clients who have been given negative performance reviews that they believe were issued for an illegal reason.
Performance evaluations are usually given, incrementally, periodically/ yearly on specified dates or based on the date that the employee commenced his or her employment. While all evaluations are different and depend on the specific employer, most are based on various subjective and objective criteria. This means that there will be some aspects of the evaluation that will be based on concrete measurements, such as the number of sales an employee has closed, as well as some aspects that are a matter of opinion, such as the employee’s demeanor. But, in all cases, the person performing the evaluation should be competent to conduct this type of review. Also, it should always be clear what the consequences of a positive or negative evaluation are. If it is not clear, the employee should ask for clarification.
Unfortunately, sometimes the performance evaluation process is unfair, and a review is given based on the evaluator’s ulterior motive or bias. This is illegal when it related to a discriminatory or retaliatory purpose. For example, a person may be given a negative review due to a protected characteristic, such as age, pregnancy, disability, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or disability. In other instances, a person may be given a negative review due to notifying the employer of the need to take time off under the Family Medical Leave Act to take care of a family member or their own medical needs. It is also often the case that an employee is given a negative review in retaliation for making some sort of complaint or uncovering/refusing to participate in some wrongdoing. An employee can also be given a negative review when the employer has made the decision to terminate an employee but needs a reason. These motives can usually be inferred from the timing or the circumstances surrounding the review.
When a performance review is given for a discriminatory or retaliatory purpose the employee may have a legal claim. But, it is often the case that the employee needs to prove that they suffered some harm as the direct result of the review. It is also important to remember that most of the time the employee has to sign his or her review. This signature could be viewed by outside parties as the employee agreeing with the contents of the evaluation. Therefore, if the employee does not agree with the contents of the review, it is best to refuse to sign it, or sign it and clearly write that he or she is agreeing only to the fact that the review was received.
Hope A. Lang is an experienced employment lawyer who has received favorable results in many cases that involve performance evaluations. She accepts cases from all counties in northern, central and southern New Jersey and has locations in central, western and northern New Jersey to meet with clients. If you believe that you have been discriminated against due to a disability or other protected characteristic, such as age, pregnancy, race, religion, sex or national origin, or in retaliation for reporting what you believed to be illegal acts of your employer, or because of requesting time off under the Family Medical Leave Act, she can help you.
If you are believe that you may have been subject to a negative review that was based on an illegal purpose, contact her office at (201)599-9600.
Call Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law now at 201 599-9600