So What’s The Point Of Documentation? – Avoid Legal
Over the past decade more and more employees have been taking
employers to court over employment issues. Sometimes those lawsuits
are justified: sometimes they’re not. However one thing is sure: you
want to protect yourself and your company from unwarranted or
malicious lawsuits that have no basis in fact.
So where does the documentation fit?
If a complaint is filed that
alleges some form of discrimination, you will need to show that the
decision (promotion, demotion, firing) was made on the basis of
legitimate performance issues.
To do that, there must be some form of paper trail or documentation
of performance difficulties, which shows three things:
- There have been problems.
- Those problems have been communicated to the employee.
- The employee has had a chance to address those problems.
In the absence of proper documentation, the court or legal
authority is likely to determine that the decision had some illegal
basis. In other words, once a compliant is filed, it is your company’s
responsibility to demonstrate it is false.
The documentation is your offer of proof.
So, if you are wondering why Human Resources departments are so
insistent on the completion of all relevant forms, that’s probably the
Another significant reason of keeping proper performance management
documentation, is a means to track performance over time, so that data
can be used to make better decisions in the future.
Special Note: A Signature Worth Its Weight
– its not enough to have documentation in the event of a
discrimination lawsuit. You must demonstrate that the employee has
received notice of any performance problems prior to dismissal.
Remember simply giving three written warnings is a misconception. It’s
standard procedure for any documentation to be dated and signed by
both parties. The signatures constitute an acknowledgement that the
information has been shared, not necessarily an agreement on the
Source: Manager’s guide to performance reviews,
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