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What Is A Performance Improvement Plan?


When many employees hear that they’ve been placed on a performance improvement plan, also known as PIP, the first thought is, “I’m going to be fired.” While that is not always the case, there are unfortunate circumstances where employers are using the paper trail of a PIP to show that the employee had a warning, thus a wrongful termination claim should be less likely. The problem becomes then when an employee panics and leaves the company before anything comes out of the PIP or, the employer is actually making up the terms of it to fire an employee for an illegal, discriminatory reason.

If you’ve been placed on a performance improvement plan, here is what you need to know.

What is a Performance Improvement Plan?

A performance improvement plan is a formal document that details recurring employee performance issues as well as goals that the employee needs to achieve to regain good standing at the company. Typically, an employee will have a set amount of time to address these employment issues and improve. If they are not, the general outcome is termination.

But the goal of an employee performance improvement plan is not to terminate the employee–it’s supposed to provide concrete ways to improve work performance. However, that is not always the case.

Is my employer using a performance improvement plan to illegally terminate me?

Let’s take a look at this example. You have been employed at the same company for more than 15 years. You worked your way up the ladder, have taken advantage of learning opportunities for professional development, and met all deadlines and goals that have come your way.

Now, you can’t help but notice that what once was a company mixed with supervisors of various ages, is now inundated with a younger generation. You’ve had no problem with this because you get along with your coworkers and supervisors, handle deadlines, and work well with the team.

But suddenly, you’ve found yourself subject to an employee performance improvement plan citing missed deadlines, lack of progress, and inability to keep up with the changing technology. That doesn’t sound like constructive criticism–that sounds like age discrimination. And you’re right. It likely is.

How to Fight an Illegal Performance Improvement Plan

When you find out you’ve been placed on an employee performance plan, you should start keeping a log of your work interactions. This includes any changes in job responsibilities, any additional criticisms from your employer, or whoever is in charge of regulating your PIP.

In addition, if you suspect your employer is trying to engage you in a confrontation by adding more responsibility and stress to your plate, do not escalate the situation, as your employer may use this as a means to cite unprofessional behavior.

Instead, contact a New York employee rights attorney who can navigate the terms of your performance improvement plan and any concerns you may have about discriminatory conduct.

Placed on a Performance Improvement Plan? Brown Kwon & Lam can help.

If you are employed in New York City or the surrounding area and have been placed on an employee performance improvement plan, contact the employment discrimination attorneys of Brown Kwon & Lam today. We will investigate your claims for discriminatory conduct and help you come to a legal resolution. Contact us today for a free consultation.