Poorly implemented employee performance evaluation systems can be a source of increased risk for employers. The most common mistakes made by employers in evaluating employees include basing the employee evaluation on subjective criteria and using standardized forms that fail to evaluate the actual job duties performed by the employee. Employers can improve their performance evaluation systems by making use of the following guidelines:
- Utilize Objective Standards:A subjective evaluation system utilized by an employer to promote or terminate an employee can subject an employer to liability under both disparate treatment and disparate impact discrimination theories. In addition, evaluations based on highly subjective criteria can lead to perceptions of unfairness and undermine moral. Employers using evaluation forms that invite evaluations based on subjective criteria such as "attitude," "personality," "demeanor," appearance," "social behavior," can run the risk that the evaluator will judge employees on characteristics unrelated to actual job duties, such as the employees sex, disability, marital status, race, family responsibility or other unlawful criteria. Evaluators should be instructed to evaluate the employees' abilities in quantifiable terms to the extent possible. For example "dependability" as demonstrated by number of days absent, late, etc.
- Avoid Standardized Forms:Preprinted evaluation forms present additional risks for employers because many fail to address core job duties and limit evaluators to inflexible rating criteria with no opportunity for written comment. Individual evaluation form should be prepared for each position which reflect the employees actual job description. Evaluators should provide specific examples of the employees strengths and weaknesses in the areas evaluated. Any deficiencies in performance should be described in detail, a description on how to improve the problem, the length of time the employee has to correct the problem and the consequences of failing to improve (i.e., termination). The employee should sign the evaluation and have an opportunity to comment in writing. In the event of litigation, proof that the employer notified the employee of the basis for termination and what was required to correct the problem is critical.