Five Steps To a Legally Defensible Performance Review System

Feedback for Legally Defensible Performance Reviews

A well-designed performance review process contributes to an organization’s success by improving customer satisfaction, productivity and profitability[1]. Performance reviews can also protect from frivolous lawsuits and provide a defense against allegations of unfair treatment.[2]

If not done improperly, they can become weapons against the company.Courts view employee reviews as a link to alleged discriminatory actions in cases involving layoffs, promotions, discharges, and/or compensation[3].

Designing a legally defensible performance review system is straightforward. Incorporate the following components.

  1. Job descriptions
  • Maintain accurate, up-to-date job descriptions.
  • Communicate job standards to employees.
  1. Create a valid review process
  • Base reviews on the job description.
  • Use pre-established rating standards.
  • Make sure evaluators know how to use the system.
  1. Objectivity
  • Base evaluations on the entire review period, not just one or two events.
  • Focus on observable behaviors and be specific.
  1. Regular feedback
  • Provide ongoing feedback so there are no surprises at review time.
  • Address problems as they occur.
  • Use corrective action notices on a regular basis.
  1. Consistency
  • Make sure comments and ratings match
  • Use the same process for everyone

The JuvodHR performance review system is designed to be legally defensible. It starts with a comprehensive job database that contains more than 1,000 customizable job descriptions. Performance reviews are tied directly to those descriptions. A slider system is used to rate employee performance on Tasks and Work Styles (characteristics necessary for success). The slider system helps managers rate employees fairly and consistently.  The results include employee feedback language based on the ratings provided. A professional performance review report to give to the employee is then automatically generated.

Corrective action notices provide the necessary paper trail for documenting employee problems. Both the performance reviews and corrective action notices need to be used on a regular basis for all employees to be effective. No training is needed with JuvodHR and the results are as effective as any enterprise system but optimized for small-business owners and frontline managers.

If challenged, a company will be expected to show that personnel decisions (e.g., termination, denial of promotion) were made using valid criteria absent any type of illegal discrimination. Proper documentation such as that found in a well-designed performance management system along with regular communication with the employee protects the company.

No manager wants to be involved in a lengthy and embarrassing court case because they did not deliver a fair and nondiscriminatory performance appraisal. Make sure your company is prepared.

JuvodHR was designed exclusively for small businesses to be simple, valid, meaningful and low cost.


[1]Gallup Study of Manager Feedback on Employee Engagement

[2]Performance-Appraisals.org - Review Legal

[3]Best Practices for Successful and Legally Defensible Performance Appraisals

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