Understanding Labor and Employment Laws In Relation To Performance Reviews
Most people have inaccurate ideas about the laws in their areas concerning things like performance reviews, layoffs, firing for "just cause", and a lot more.
Sadly, people tend to over-estimate how much protection they have.
In an effort to help you understand the basics, here's an overview of the ESSENTIALS. Make sure to read the disclaimer.
Laws In Theory and Practice
Even if you read a piece of employment law that seems to support your claim or position, it's important to understand that what the LAW says isn't the important part. It's the COURTS that determine the application of laws to the SPECIFIC situation, and courts are not consistent in applying even the same law.
There is no substitute for consulting a lawyer -- in fact a lawyer who specializes in labor law in your jurisdiction. Period. Do so.
Unfortunately, the ONLY way to know absolutely how the law will be applied to your situation is to file a claim, or go to court. Don't have a false sense of security here. Even lawyers can be surprised about how a specific court will decide in a specific issue.
Employment Law Tends To Favor Employers, But It Depends
Particularly in the USA, employment laws tend to favor employers. For example, there's a common misconception that American companies can't fire someone unless they have "just cause", AND that they have documented poor performance during reviews. Generally not true. In most states, companies can let you go without any reason at all. It can get a bit more complicated, though.
Consequences Of Taking Advantage of Legal Recourse
Keep in mind that if you take an employer to court, let's say to get back a job you feel you were illegally dismissed from, even if you win, it's never going to be like it was before. Technically, companies can't penalize or retaliate against ;you for looking after your own rights under the law, but people being people, personal relationships can't be legislated. Even if you CAN return, relationships with people at work will be different. The job may be different.
The upshot is that you need to consider what you have to lose first. That's not to say you should roll over and play dead, but THINK. You can be "right", and still lose in the long run.
Important: This page, and, in fact, all the pages on this site should NOT be construed as legal advice regarding YOUR SITUATION.
There is no substitute for consulting a lawyer -- in fact a lawyer who specializes in labor law in your jurisdiction. Period. Do so. Most lawyers are willing to spend fifteen minutes with a potential client to provide basic advice. Find a lawyer who will do that.
For more information about how performance reviews and the law interact, and to have more of your questions answered, please go to the special page we've set up to answer common questions employees have.
Frequently Asked Question On Legal Issues For Businesses And Companies
- Are there legal reasons to do performance reviews? Will they protect companies from civil suits?
- We do regular performance reviews. Can they backfire in court?
- What laws are involved and/or should be considered when developing or examining a performance management system?
- What anti-discrimination laws exist in the U.S.A. that relate to performance management and reviews?
- What criteria are necessary or important to have legally defensible performance reviews that protect the employer?