How PIPs can cover workplace discrimination

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2024 | Workplace Discrimination |

You’ve always prided yourself on doing a good job, but your new boss doesn’t seem to value you. Although your work hasn’t changed, your performance reviews are suddenly dismal, and it isn’t long before you’re dragged into a meeting and handed a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) to sign.

Officially, a PIP is supposed to be a tool that can help you get your work back on track – and you back in your employer’s good graces. Unofficially, however, PIPs are usually a precursor to termination. They exist largely to give your employer an official, organized way to document your failings at work so that they can justify your termination. Quite often, they’re also a cover for discrimination.

How can a PIP be discriminatory?

You have good cause to believe that a PIP is discriminatory when:

  • You realize that you and your employer are at odds over something personal. Maybe your young new manager is ageist, or maybe you recently made a complaint about your working conditions – or maybe your request for reasonable accommodations seemed to irk the powers above you. 
  • The expectations set out in your PIP are unrealistic, subjective and vague. In addition, you may be saddled with new, time-consuming requirements for documenting your work, which will only make it harder for you to be productive.
  • You find that your support system, as outlined in the PIP, is actually non-existent. If you get any feedback at all, it seems intentionally vague.

The same people who put you on a PIP are the people who will ultimately decide if you’ve met all your objectives. If they want you to fail, you will. That makes it especially important to be proactive about documenting every incident that you think is telling and discriminatory during this time – since you may need to soon explore additional legal options.

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