Despite all of the laws that mandate equal employment opportunities and fair treatment, some employers continue to discriminate against anybody that doesn't "fit the mold" of their ideal employee due to their age, gender, gender expression, race, skin color, disabilities, religion or numerous other factors.
Since employers know that discrimination is illegal, some of them get pretty clever about hiding their practices. One such method of deception is the misuse of performance improvement plans (PIPs).
What's a Performance Improvement Plan All About?
In theory, PIPs are supposed to be designed to help an employee who is struggling gradually enhance their performance and get up to speed with the company's expectations. It's not supposed to be a punishment so much as it is supposed to give the employee very specific directions to follow, a lot of additional supervisory support, and clear metrics by which their performance can be gauged.
However, there are times when an employer uses a PIP as a way of making an employee uncomfortable enough with their situation to quit. If that fails, the employer may use the PIP to create a paper trail that makes firing that employee look justified, even when it isn't.
What Are the Signs a PIP Is Really a Pretext?
Employers who use PIPs to get rid of unwanted employees without worrying about a discrimination law case coming their way tend to follow predictable patterns. You should be concerned when:
- You've been given unrealistic goals and expectations. If your objectives aren't attainable and your attempts to negotiate a more reasonable set of goals are dismissed without consideration, you've essentially been given an impossible task. You can't meet targets that are clearly out of reach.
- There's a lot of vagueness and subjectivity to your evaluations. Do you feel like the "goalposts" for your expected work performance keep moving? This could be intentional, especially if the person you believe to be discriminatory is the same person who is judging your success or failure. Vague metrics make it easy to treat you unfairly.
- You're assigned a lot of time-consuming extra work. Your PIP is supposed to be about improving your work performance, not about how well you document everything you do. If you're suddenly tasked with all kinds of documentation work in the name of tracking your progress, you'll have less time to actually do your work. That's setting you up to fail.
If your PIP seems more like a plan to get you out the door and you have reason to believe that you're the victim of workplace discrimination, it may be time to speak with a discrimination law firm about your situation.
For more information, contact a discrimination case attorney near you.