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Poor Performance Review Prompts Legal Action

Question:

My employee sent me a scathing email in response to a performance evaluation I just gave her. She has contacted her attorney and has threatened to quit. At this point I just want to fire her – how should I respond?

Answer:

As tempting as it may be to terminate this employee immediately, it is critical that you keep a level head and do your due diligence. You don’t want to let the fact that the employee has called an attorney force you into a hasty decision you may regret.

A less than stellar performance evaluation is never easy to deal with for either party, but also should never be a surprise to the employee. Whether an attorney is involved or not, make sure you have all your documentation in place to support your evaluation and any further actions. View your documentation with a critical eye – pretend you are a judge and jury. Hopefully your supervisors are well trained in documentation and you have a trail detailing the employee’s performance history and how it has been addressed.

This is where that ongoing feedback (and documentation) is invaluable. Is there anything else you can and/or should do to help the employee be successful? Is a Performance Improvement Plan warranted? If you and your managers have done due diligence, your actions should hold up in court. Any employee can contact an attorney for any reason. Our role as HR professionals is to always protect our companies’ best interests, on the assumption that employees will contact their attorney, and be ready for any situation.

Having good employee relations is key to effectively managing (and retaining) your workforce. Employees want to feel valued and may not perform up to standards, or stick around very long, if they don’t feel they are needed. Strategic HR, inc. understands the value of your workforce and having solid Employee Relations. We’ve helped companies create reward and recognition programs and have coached managers on providing support and mentoring to their employees. Learn how we can help you with your Employee Relations needs by visiting our Employee Relations page.