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TJ, Esq.
TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12407
Experience:  JD, MBA
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I work for a small-staff nonprofit in Washington, D.C. I received

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I work for a small-staff nonprofit in Washington, D.C. I received a negative performance review and I have several concerns:
1) The form does not have a statement that my signature indicates that I have received the document but do not necessarily agree with it. My boss told me my signature indicates agreement. If I sign, may I write in that my signature indicates that I received the review, but does not indicate agreement?
2) My boss gave me a review the previous year; however, neither my boss nor I ever signed it. It was left unfinished. If neither of us signed the review, does it legally exist? In my most recent review, my boss made a statement that the overall rating of my current review is lower than the previous, unsigned review. Is this statement permissible, given that neither of us ever signed the review?
3) I wish to include a rebuttal to the current review in my personnel file. Essentially, I would like to correct the record, which is especially important to me in the event that I am later fired. Do I have the right to include a rebuttal in my personnel file? If my company will not permit this, what are my other options?
Hello and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.

1) The form does not have a statement that my signature indicates that I have received the document but do not necessarily agree with it. My boss told me my signature indicates agreement. If I sign, may I write in that my signature indicates that I received the review, but does not indicate agreement?
A: The law does not prevent you from writing that you received, but do not agree with, the review. At the same time, the law does not grant you the absolute right to write that information on the review. The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that the law does not take a position on it. You may refuse to sign the review, or you offer to sign only if you can write that you do not agree with it. Your employer may opt to do nothing, or it may discipline you (including terminate you) for refusing to sign the statement as it is ... even if your boss tells you that your signature indicates your agreement, and even if you disagree. The only exception would be if you have an employment contract that limits the reasons that you can be disciplined or terminated. If you have such a contract, then you can refuse to sign and you could only be disciplined or terminated if your contract allows it for that reason.

2) My boss gave me a review the previous year; however, neither my boss nor I ever signed it. It was left unfinished. If neither of us signed the review, does it legally exist? In my most recent review, my boss made a statement that the overall rating of my current review is lower than the previous, unsigned review. Is this statement permissible, given that neither of us ever signed the review?
A: Does the review legally exist? Certainly. There is no law which requires work reviews to be signed. Is the statement permissible? Absolutely. Your boss is permitted to say just about anything he'd like, so long as whatever he says is not inappropriate such as a racial slur or sexual harassment.

3) I wish to include a rebuttal to the current review in my personnel file. Essentially, I would like to correct the record, which is especially important to me in the event that I am later fired. Do I have the right to include a rebuttal in my personnel file? If my company will not permit this, what are my other options?
A: No, I'm sorry to say that the law does not grant you the right to rebut something in your personnel file.

As you can see, the law is mostly "hands off" when it comes to matters between you and your employer. The law does not govern performance reviews. I realize that it may seem almost hard to believe given all the labor laws that people talk about, but the law does not get into that kind of minutia. When it comes to employment, the law is primarily concerned with matters that affect society as a whole, such as illegal discrimination/retaliation, safety, and taxes. Individual performance reviews are far below the law's radar.

Now, if you think that your poor performance review is due to something like illegal discrimination or retaliation, then you may have other rights. For example, if your employer does not like your race, and that is why you were given a poor review, then you could file a charge with the EEOC. The law prohibits discrimination based upon race.

Does that answer your question? Please let me know if you need clarification, as I am happy to continue helping you until you are satisfied. Also, your positive feedback is much appreciated. Thank you for using our service!

If you would like to direct additional legal questions to me in the future, then please type "To VAMD" in the subject line of your question.
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