What to do if you receive a PIP?
For many employees being placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) could be frightening as they could be uncertain as to what it means. It is important that you, as an employee, know what your rights are when being presented with a PIP.
A Performance Improvement Plan is a tool that employers use to explain and document an employee’s performance deficiencies, and also give that employee an opportunity to improve his/her performance. A PIP is usually a written document outlining the performance issues that led to the employee’s placement on the performance improvement plan, the employer’s expectations or objectives, and a schedule or other detailed strategy that lists objectives for the employee to meet in order to show that he/she is making the required efforts towards improving their performance and meeting the goals outlined in the plan. An employee’s failure to complete a PIP usually results in employment termination.
When the employer notifies the employee that he/she is being placed on a PIP, the employer will ask for the employee’s signature on the PIP document itself. Many people fear that by signing the PIP they are automatically admitting that there is some inadequacy in their performance. However, declining to sign may be interpreted as refusing to cooperate with performance improvement, which could be grounds for termination. This presents a difficult position for an employee. If faced with this situation, you should sign the PIP as requested, but follow the recommendations below:
- Read through and assess the document before signing.
- In the event that something in the PIP document is false or inaccurate, you, the employee, should bring it to Human Resources or Management’s attention. A written response alleging these inaccuracies would get documented with the PIP.
- Only sign a statement if it is simply to acknowledge that you have received notification of the PIP. You may put a disclaimer indicating that your signature acknowledges the receipt of the agreement, but that it does not indicate that you agree with the terms.
Notwithstanding the accuracy of the PIP, your approach needs to be to complete it.
Even if you don’t agree with the decision, a PIP is work assigned by the employer, and refusing to act on it gives them a legitimate reason to take disciplinary action or terminate employment.
ARE YOU BEING PLACED ON A PIP BASED ON UNLAWFUL RETALIATION?
Retaliation occurs when an employer, employment agency, or labor organization takes adverse action against a covered individual because he or she engaged in a protected activity.
Examples of protected activity include filing a charge of discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposing discrimination. The same laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability also prohibit retaliation against individuals who oppose unlawful discrimination or participate in an employment discrimination proceeding.
Protected activity may also include whistleblowing such as an employee’s opposition to unlawful actions by their employer.
Is being placed on a PIP an adverse employment action? Most Courts hold that placing an employee on a PIP is not an adverse employment action, unless the PIP affects the employee’s pay, benefits, or employment status. Nevertheless, if the PIP has unrealistic expectations and it’s highly improbable that an employee could complete it, then it is possible that the PIP was a contrived reason for an adverse action (termination, demotion, or pay reduction) to take place. If you believe you are being retaliated against by being placed on a PIP you should contact an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible. A qualified labor and employment lawyer can recommend an appropriate legal strategy that ensures your legal rights are protected and your legal claims are successfully advanced.
The Linesch Firm has been representing employees across the state of Florida for over three decades. Our attorneys are able to examine your situation and provide you the best legal advice depending on your specific employment matter. You can fill out an inquiry form here. Once you submit this form, somebody at the firm will review your case and contact you as soon as possible. Additional contact information is linked below.
The Linesch Firm Website
The Linesch Firm number: (727) 786-0000