Can I Challenge a Performance Improvement Plan?

Understanding if Your PIP Is Geared Towards Your Improvement or Your Replacement

While a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is not a disciplinary action, it serves as a formal warning of one’s underperformance and a recognition of their inability to reach certain goals. The aim of a PIP is to help struggling employees fulfil the expectations of their job by outlining a series of steps to help them meet the expectations of their employer. When presented with a PIP, it’s important to ensure that it outlines an achievable route to success. If it appears unfeasible, you should ask for modifications that will help you accomplish what’s expected of you.

What Is a Performance Improvement Plan?

A Performance Improvement Plan is usually the predecessor of a termination notice. However, the intention is not to introduce this plan as a first step towards firing an employee. Rather, it’s a way to help an employee recognize what is expected of them and how they may work to achieve these goals. Effective plans should detail:

  • Specific performance expectations the employee is working towards
  • Smaller goals to help them accomplish the larger objective
  • Precise timeframes for reaching the determined targets

These plans typically last between one and four months, depending on the extent of the employee’s struggles and their goals.

When Are Performance Improvement Plans Appropriate?

“Underperformance” is a broad and sometimes subjective criteria for employers to identify. To decide when a Performance Improvement Plan is necessary, managers must have quantifiable quotas to compare the employee against. For example, a PIP could be beneficial in the event that:

  • An employee repeatedly falls short of a sales goal or similar expectation
  • An employee repeatedly misses deadlines
  • An employee is consistently late
  • An employee has ignored company policy on multiple occasions
  • An employee is frequently producing errors in their work

Overall, it’s important to consider the regularity of the shortcomings. While it’s natural for everyone to make mistakes and have off-days in the office, recurrent underperformance necessitates intervention.

What Makes a Performance Improvement Plan Unfair?

If it’s clear that your Performance Improvement Plan is in fact being used towards a certain firing, or if you have been evaluated unfairly, you should respond to a Performance Improvement Plan. A plan could be seen as unfair if:

  • It sets unrealistically high expectations or goals
  • It introduces additional tasks that divert from your main job duties
  • The individual who implemented or decided that the plan was necessary is acting as your advisor and in charge of overseeing your progress
  • The resulting stress impacts your ability to reach performance goals
  • The plan lacks any teaching or mentoring that would effectively help the employee learn and reach those goals
Our lawyers can help you evaluate the legality of your PIP and assess if you have been wrongfully targeted by your employer. Trust John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law to protect your career and your future. Contact us today for help with your case.
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