Question: Alan, the first day back from a maternity leave I was told I would be put on a Performance Improvement Plan (or “PIP”). The reasons given were unsatisfactory performance and tardiness. The allegation of “tardiness” came from the day before I took off for maternity leave, I was late for about an hour due to a painful contraction, which I explained to my manager.

I’ve been on this job for about two years. The first year went well; I was given a positive review and a good bonus. But this year – while I was pregnant – my boss has been totally unreasonable. I was assigned tasks for which I had no background. While I’ve never committed any mistakes, or missed any deadlines, my boss has been orally and through email attacking me.

As soon as I returned from maternity, she placed me on a PIP, and has been terribly hostile. I resigned three days after that, although I’m still employed at this time. My plan is to submit a dispute letter to HR, reporting this as pregnancy discrimination and asking for a retraction of the PIP, and ask HR to agree with me that my resignation is truly involuntary, so that I can collect unemployment insurance. What should I write in the letter?

PS: Thank you for your helpful tips!

Puzzledajob
Fairfax, Virginia

Answer: Actually, you’ve done a pretty good job of doing that in the short memo you’ve written to me.

That being said, I suggest you try to enhance it a bit:

(a) give specific descriptions of the hostility;
(b) name people who may have witnessed it;
(c) provide copies of the attacking emails;
(d) point out the ways your boss has made your efforts to work impossible; and
(e) perhaps most of all, tell HR that your tardiness was due to a contraction, and YOUR BOSS KNOWS THAT TO BE THE CASE. (That last one is a “doozy”; to me, what your boss did in that instance is nothing short of repulsive.)

It’s also important to show that you were doing so well until you became pregnant. Your memo should be sent by email, and should go to a top executive in your division, as well as the top HR person in the division, as well.

Just a reminder: Review our Newsletters and Q&A’s on Pushing Back at Performance Improvement Plans and even our Video on the subject. You can do so by [clicking here].

We also offer for a nominal fee a Model Involuntary Resignation Letter on the “Private Library” section of our blogsite. To obtain a copy [click here].

Your memo, and any supporting information and emails, may also be saved for submission to the Virginia unemployment agency, in case your employer contests your application for unemployment benefits. Likewise, you might consider showing your memo and its supporting information and materials to an employment attorney during a consultation, which I suggest you consider IF your employer does not treat you well after receiving your memo. I’m not a gambler, but I would be willing to bet you will end up collecting unemployment, and perhaps with a severance package, as well.

Best, best, best luck – with your efforts, but especially with your new baby!! As I always say (unless one of my kids just made me crazy), “Kids are the best part of life.”

Oh, yes, I would love it if you might report back to us how it goes – readers would love to share your experience.

Hope this helps; I really do.

Best, Al Sklover

Help Yourself With
These Unique PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT PLAN (PIP) Materials

PIP 1: Model Response to Receiving a PIP
PIP 2: Model Second Response if Your First Response Does Not Work
PIP 3: 152- Point Step-by-Step Guide and Checklist for a PIP
PIP 4: 3 Memos Seeking Feedback of Clients, Customers, Colleagues for Use in PIP Pushback
PIP 5: Final Memo to Delay PIP Conclusion to Continue Job Search
PIP 6: After Successful PIP Pushback, Suggesting Positive Next Steps

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