“Do I have a right to have an independent person accompany me to a performance review meeting?”

Question: Do I have a right to bring an independent outside party to a required follow up meeting to a performance evaluation meeting with my supervisor and her manager?

I feel very vulnerable since the first meeting two weeks ago was very distressing, and I believe was in retribution for my previously having gone to Human Resources with concerns about my supervisor. This follow up meeting does not include Human Resources.

         Brandon, Missouri

Answer: Cheryl, you do not have a legal right to have an independent third party at your follow up meeting regarding performance review or evaluation.

That said, it is possible that your company has a policy that permits you to bring someone to such a meeting, but such policies are very, very rare. Nonetheless, you should ask Human Resources if there is a policy permitting that at your company.

Even though you don’t have a legal right to have a third party there, and even though you probably don’t have the right to have a third party there under any company policy, one thing you definitely do have the right to do: make a request that you be permitted to bring someone independent with you. That you definitely have. And I think you should make such a request, in writing, as soon as possible. 

Your email to me did not mention what it was about your supervisor, or her conduct, that you reported to Human Resources. That’s pretty important, because if it was any kind of dishonest, improper, harassing, illegal or discriminatory conduct, you have legal rights to be free from retaliation from reporting those things.

I suggest very strongly that you should send an email to the Director of Human Resources, and report that you believe you have been retaliated against for reporting your supervisor’s conduct, and that such retaliation is probably illegal and/or against company policies, and that you are worried sick it is going to happen again at the next meeting, and that you are fearful of how it might affect you if you don’t have some independent third party with you for emotional support.

You might also ask that the follow-up meeting be postponed until this is investigated by an independent third party. You might also ask that the company’s Legal Director be told of what has happened, for his or her own investigation.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Gee, this is very confrontational stuff,” you would not be wrong. I am something of a confrontational person. BUT, I don’t confront people, so much as I do confront problems, and especially problems that hurt people I care for. Think about this: your job is how you feed, clothe and house your loved ones. With that in mind, you can be a lot more assertive in confronting problems, because if you don’t confront those problems, they will confront you, and indirectly, the welfare of your loved ones.

You used the word “retribution.” That is the same thing as “retaliation.” The most effective way to deter retaliation or retribution, is to “shine a light on it.” The best way to stop retaliation and retribution is to “confront” it, head on, in writing, with determination.

Think you can do it? I hope so, and I suggest you consider doing so.

We offer a Model Memo to assist you in Objecting to Retaliation on the Job. If you would like to obtain a copy [click here].

I hope this has been helpful. I really do.  

Best, Al Sklover   

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

Print Article