Performance Evaluation Discrimination Lawyers

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Depending on your occupation, you may be subject to a periodic performance evaluation.  While some employers adopt formal systems for performance management, others appraise employees informally using loose and indistinct criteria.  Regardless of your employer's method, this is ideally where your boss, manager or some other employer evaluates you on your ability to successfully perform your duties by considering only the aspects of your employment that you have the power to control.  

However, problems arise when performance evaluations are influenced by factors outside of your control or when employers abuse their managerial authority by conducting evaluations in a discriminating way.  In some cases, an employer's system for performance evaluations can have a disparate impact on certain employees based on their age, race, ethnicity and gender.  

What is a Forced Ranking System?

Many large companies are engaged in a management system in which the employers conduct routine performance evaluations and then use the results to rank their employees against each other depending on the results.  This method of management is commonly referred to as "forced ranking system," as it forces employers to rank their employees against each other from "best" to "worst."  Similarly, employers are compelled to identify a percentage of their employees as unsatisfactory performers. 

How might a Forced Ranking System Effect Me?

If your place of employment adheres to a forced ranking system and the individuals responsible for conducting those evaluations do so in a negligent or discriminatory way, you could be subject to unfair treatment in your workplace.  One of the strongest criticisms of the forced ranking system is the resulting competition between employees.  A key component of the forced ranking system is the practice of rewarding or promoting employees at the top of the rankings and punishing or firing employees at the bottom.  Consequently, this system creates hostility among co-workers as each employee continually attempts to look better than the next.  Employers and managers justify this approach by arguing that it brings out the best in their employees.  However, the reality is that forced ranking systems can be abused by discriminating against certain employees in the evaluation process.  This is often accomplished by using overly-subjective criteria for evaluating an employee's performance.  

Are there Any Protections Against Performance Evaluation Discrimination?

Yes.  Just like an employer cannot discriminate against you in other aspects of your employment, an employer may not discriminate against you when conducting your performance evaluation.  There are federal and state anti-discriminatory laws which your employer must adhere to throughout the evaluation process.  Additionally, you have a right to confidentiality of your performance evaluation.  

What Should I Do if I have been Subject to Performance Evaluation Discrimination?

If you feel that your performance evaluation was conducted in a discriminatory manner, you should speak with an attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and any applicable laws.  An experienced attorney can also advise you of whether your rights were violated and what remedies are available to you.  It is also important that you retain all documentation of your evaluation, especially a copy of the evaluation itself if available.  Likewise, it would be a good idea to retain any other documentations or correspondence between you and your employer which contain any  informal assessments of your performance. 

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Last Modified: 09-21-2010 02:38 PM PDT

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