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Be aware of discrimination in performance evaluations

On Behalf of | Aug 1, 2023 | Employment Law

Discrimination can take many forms in the workplace, which could set an employee up for wrongful termination. This, in turn, can lead to contentious litigation, with each side fighting to protect their interests.

While much of the workplace discrimination that serves as the foundation of these lawsuits occurs in a business’s daily operations, there can also be specific events that can be triggering. One of them is the appraisal process.

How a performance evaluation can lead to discrimination

Performance appraisals are meant to give workers a snapshot of how they’re living up to expectations while providing them with constructive feedback. They also put employees on notice of any performance issues that need correcting.

Yet, all too often employers make statements in the written appraisal that are discriminatory in nature or they criticize based on a discriminatory intent. For example, a worker who is part of an ethnic minority may be treated differently in their appraisal compared to a non-minority who is in the same position.

Although it might be difficult to take legal action on a performance evaluation alone, it can serve as corroborating evidence of workplace discrimination and wrongful termination.

How can discrimination be avoided in performance evaluations?

There are several steps that employers should take to avoid discrimination in the appraisal process. This includes:

  • Informing all new hires of performance expectations.
  • Applying performance standards equally amongst all employees.
  • Providing regular feedback about whether an employee is meeting performance expectations.
  • Making diligent efforts to ensure that members of a protected class are not held to a higher standard.
  • Notifying all employees of changes in employment standards in a timely fashion.

Hopefully employers will be proactive in following these steps to avoid discrimination. When they don’t, though, then litigation may be on the horizon. In those instances, it’s important that you take the action necessary to protect your interests.