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Do Not Sugarcoat Performance Reviews!


Periodic employee performance reviews can be valuable tools to help employers improve performance and employee morale at their company. Effective performance reviews can reinforce an employer’s business principles and priorities and help foster the skills the employer wants its employees to develop. They can also help employers gather information needed to improve individual employee and overall company performance.


Poorly executed performance reviews, however, expose employers to increased liability.

  • EXAMPLE: Maurice, a manager at a Yellow Toad is uncomfortable with confrontations. As a result, he gives all employees satisfactory performance evaluations. Earl, an employee of Yellow Frog, now has no idea that he has been consistently underperforming. Soon thereafter, Earl is fired. Earl then finds a big-time lawyer and sues for wrongful termination. In court, Earl’s lawyer pulls out the reviews Maurice wrote “satisfactory”. There’s a good possibility the judge will side with Earl and award him damages, back pay, and even force Yellow Toad to reinstate Earl back as an employee! All of this could have been avoided had Maurice gave an honest and upfront review in the first place, that did not sugarcoat anything.


When writing performance reviews, Employers should ensure managers:

  • Conduct and document effective and honest reviews.
  • Evaluate employees’ performance using specific criteria.
  • Don’t just check boxes.
  • Provide as much detail as possible, supported by examples.
  • Don’t mention health issues.
  • Consider whether to incorporate employee feedback.
  • Avoid emotional, sarcastic, or superfluous comments.
  • Use spell check and avoid typos.
  • Follow Employer’s policy.
  • Obtain employee’s signature.


The majority of managers want to be liked. But, flowery performance reviews are not the way to gain employee favor. As an employer, it is important to train managers of the importance of performance evaluations. Here, at Garcia & Gurney, ALC we have experienced employment law attorneys that can give guidance on how to conduct performance review evaluations and can additionally educate employers the proper steps to train managers. If you have any questions or need legal advice pertaining to issues relating to performance reviews, contact us today to schedule a consultation.


The information contained in this article is provided by Garcia & Gurney, ALC (“G&G”) and is provided for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or an offer to perform services on any subject matter. Recipients of this article should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in this article without seeking appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient’s state. G&G expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken by the recipient based on any or all of the information or other contents in this article. This article not intended to constitute an advertisement for professional services or any other services. Nothing herein is intended to create an attorney-client relationship and shall not be construed as legal advice.

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