It’s appraisal season, that time of year where employers develop written assessments of their employees’ performance over the last calendar year. It can be a great way for workers to receive feedback on their competencies and their ability to meet their employer’s identified goals, but it can also be a time of frustration, confusion and anger for workers who are taken by surprise when they read their evaluation.
If you think that you were treated unfairly in your appraisal, you may want to take a closer look at it. This is because the harshness in your appraisal may be more than just an overly critical review from your supervisor. It may be indicative of discrimination.
How discrimination occurs in the appraisal process
The focus of a performance appraisal is supposed to be on your actions and inactions. Sometimes, though, employers stray from that expectation and instead focus on the individual and their characteristics. For example, a performance appraisal may include each of the following:
- Criticism for missing work or showing up late to work despite an employee having to take time off work for a medical condition or even taking federally protected leave.
- Harsh feedback regarding a workers’ ability to meet work expectations despite the worker having a disability that prevents them from meeting those identified goals.
- Negative marks for an older worker who is unable to successfully navigate technology used in the workplace even though the worker was never given the training needed to learn the programs at hand.
There may be other signs of discriminatory practices, too. This includes:
- The supervisor showing favoritism toward people who are not in a certain protected class and unfairly criticizing those who fall into the protected class.
- The employer using short-term memory, basing the majority of an appraisal on events that occurred just shortly before the appraisal was written.
- The employer holding employees to differing standards based on their presence in a protected class.
If you see any of these issues in your appraisal, you may want to consider taking legal action, especially if you were later subjected to an adverse employment decision, which may include:
- Reduced pay
- Changed hours
- Reduced hours
Building your case
If you want to hold your employer accountable, you need to make sure that you gather evidence to show that discrimination has occurred. While your appraisal itself may be helpful, there could be other places to turn for the evidence that you need to support your position. This includes:
- Talking to co-workers to see if they’ve been subjected to similar discriminatory behavior.
- Retaining communications from your employer that shows discrimination.
- Keeping information that contradicts your employer’s justifications for taking an adverse employment action against you.
- Writing in a journal so that you can document any behavior exhibited toward you that may be indicative of discrimination.
It’s better to be safe than sorry in these matters. Therefore, gathering more information and being more detailed is better.
Are you ready for legal action?
If you’re ready to take legal action against your employer, you might want to think about securing legal assistance to navigate your claim. By doing so, you may be able to build the persuasive case that you need to hold your employer accountable and recover the compensation that you need to offset your damages. Hopefully, you can then feel like justice has been achieved and you can get back to your normal life as quickly as possible.