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How to handle a bad performance review

If your federal employer gave you a bad performance review, you may feel lost. Performance reviews are important to federal employees. They often dictate career growth and the agency may consider performance evaluations in decisions on promotions, transfers, or awards.

If you receive a bad performance review, we can help.

What can I do if I get a bad performance rating?

You have options if you receive a bad performance review. 

Federal employees often have the right to grieve a bad performance review. This means that you would file a written appeal, oftentimes to your rater’s supervisor, about the reasons the evaluation is unfair. The person deciding the grievance can either affirm the rating or change the rating based on your written submission.

If you believe your supervisor rated you unfairly because of discrimination based on your age, race, national origin, gender, disability, or religion, you have the right to file an EEO complaint. Similarly, if you believe your supervisor rated you poorly because you engaged in protected activity, you can file a legal claim.

Should I respond to a bad performance review?

If you believe your supervisor did not rate you on the appropriate standards or you do not understand your performance standards, it is a good idea to respond to your performance review. An attorney can help you draft a response that will help clarify your performance standards and avoid performance-based discipline in the future.

Can I take legal action?

It depends. If you believe your supervisor gave you a bad performance review because of discrimination or retaliation, you can take legal action. Keep in mind the deadline to file a legal claim is very short. You must typically file a grievance within 5 to 15 days, and you must file an EEO complaint within 45 days of the bad performance review. If you file a grievance, you may not have the right to file an EEO claim as well.

How can an attorney help me respond to a bad review?

An attorney can help you respond to a bad performance review and can advise whether you have a legal claim. An attorney can also help you navigate the different deadlines for grievances and EEO complaints challenging a bad performance rating. An experienced employment attorney can help ensure that you fulfill your obligations and have all the evidence you need to successfully prove your case.

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Discrimination Employee Rights Federal Discipline Federal Employees Federal MSPB Law Retaliation Whistleblower Retaliation Wrongful Termination

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