Responding to a Negative Performance Evaluation

Employers often use performance evaluations to create pretext for terminating an employee. If you believe you have been subjected to illegal discrimination or harassment, filing a response can unmask the illegal conduct and, sometimes, prolong your employment.

A negative performance evaluation without any prior warning, notice or complaint can be shocking to an employee. This is especially true if the criticisms arise after you have experienced or reported discrimination or harassment.

Employers can use negative performance assessments as a means to put an employee on probation and/or terminate the employment relationship while avoiding

the costs of unemployment insurance or policy severance. While it may be difficult to rebut subjective feedback, a written response to a negative assessment is a means for an employee to identify accomplishments and document discrimination or harassment concerns.

Ignoring a negative evaluation leaves the subjective critiques in the employee’s personnel file with no documented evidence of rebuttal. At the same time, criticisms can evoke strong emotions and an employee should be careful to address the substance of the evaluation rather than engage in personal attacks. The employee should provide specific examples that refute pretextual criticisms and highlight the employee’s contributions.

If an employee is unsure about a supervisor’s motivation for negative feedback, the employee should also be cautious about making unsubstantiated claims of discrimination or harassment without speaking with an employment attorney.