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Can performance evaluations reduce employer liability?

There are many federal and state laws that govern employment in Houston, and ensuring that your company is in compliance requires attention to detail. One tactic that may be useful in avoiding employment litigation is the use of performance evaluations. However, according to the Houston Chronicle, these must meet certain criteria to be effective in preventing lawsuits and improving productivity in the workplace.

It is important to inform your employees of what will be expected of them before implementing an evaluation program, and a process for appealing a negative review should be established from the beginning. Each assessment should be tailored to the job, but with a performance rating scale that is common to all employee titles so that, for example, a clerk and a supervisor may both receive “exceptional” ratings. Education should be provided for those who will be conducting evaluations.

Someone who has a long history of excellent evaluations may suspect discrimination if he or she is suddenly terminated for poor performance. On the other hand, if you have documented issues and attempted to work with the employee to correct problems through your review process, this record makes it easier to terminate an employment relationship that is not beneficial to the company.

There is no law stating that you must conduct performance reviews, but any policies and procedures that you set up for an evaluation system should be followed carefully. Otherwise, you may be facing litigation from an employee who feels you have not treated him or her fairly. If it can be proven that your failure to meet the obligation required by your own policy has resulted in damages, you may be held liable. This information provides a general overview, but it does not address specific circumstances, and should not be considered legal advice.

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