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How Do Employers Use Performance Reviews Against Employees?

Performance reviews are a regular part of almost every job in existence, with employees evaluated based on their ability to adequately perform their job duties. In theory, these are innocuous, a sensible part of ensuring employees are on task and doing their jobs. In reality, however, performance reviews can be used as a tool to deprive employees of their pay and benefits, and to conceal potentially illegal labor practices.

What Are Performance Reviews?

Performance reviews are, broadly speaking, any type of review of an employee’s work that evaluates their ability to handle their jobs. This could evaluate their basic competence at required job tasks, as well as their punctuality, their ability to meet deadlines, and how satisfied clients or customers are with their service. Normally, a performance review is meant to determine if a person might be eligible for a raise or promotion, or if they may need to face professional consequences for failing to do what is required of them.

How Can Employers Abuse Performance Reviews?

In theory, employers should be honest when evaluating an employee to ensure they are given the treatment they deserve. However, dishonest employers can use performance reviews to justify penalizing an employee for unrelated activities they find undesirable, such as promoting labor organizing or expressing pro-union views. They can also use them to justify discriminating against employees, or to punish an employee who reports labor law violations.

Why Do They Do This?

Discriminating against an employee on the basis of race, sex, religion, nationality, or other legally protected categories of traits is illegal, as is discriminating against someone who reports labor violations. It is also illegal to punish an employee for engaging in legally protected labor activities, such as promoting union organizing. Bad performance reviews can create a veneer of legitimacy to discriminatory or otherwise illegal actions, allowing them to justify potential labor violations on the basis of their poor job performance.

What Can an Employee Do if This Happens to Them?

If you are an employee who has suffered poor performance reviews for no apparent reason, and especially if your reviews have declined after reporting discrimination or other labor law violations, you should speak to a lawyer immediately. In addition, always consider writing a rebuttal if you believe the comments in your performance review or performance improvement plan are subjectively unfair or factually incorrect. An attorney with experience handling labor and employment law cases can help you to obtain the compensation you deserve. An experienced lawyer can also help you draft a rebuttal letter in response to a negative performance review. The sooner you call, the sooner they can get to work to get you justice for the harm you have suffered.

If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 40 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.

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