Employee Performance Reviews- Sword or Shield?

While performance reviews are a routine part of many job positions, they can be a sword or a shield in employment disputes. These documents can be valuable evidence in many types of employment claims, especially those involving allegations of wrongful termination.

Performance reviews are intended to provide feedback and identify opportunities for growth. They can also help employees understand how well they are meeting the employer’s expectations and what areas might need slight improvement. But make no mistake—the significance of performance reviews does not cease at the time of termination. If the employment relationship goes south, performance reviews can develop a second life in subsequent litigation.

After an employee is terminated, it is not uncommon for an employee to claim that the employer’s proffered reason was a pretext and that the termination was due to unlawful discrimination or retaliation. Performance evaluations are particularly effective in showing a legitimate reason for the employer’s stated reason for termination, for example, if the evaluations demonstrate a decline in performance over time before the termination. However, employees can also use performance evaluations to bolster their claims.

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