Documentation can make or break an employer during a legal dispute with an employee. The importance of sound documentation can’t be overemphasized. In the unfortunate event of an employee lawsuit, it will be your notes that take center stage in the courtroom.
Why “Documentation” Matters:
Documentation is one of the most important job functions that a supervisor has. Good documentation is essential to an employee’s growth at a company, as it recognizes their progress, successes, and areas to improve. Documentation also records any disciplinary action taken against an employee and can take center stage as a piece of evidence during an employee lawsuit in cases such as wrongful termination, discrimination cases, and many more.
In recent years, new laws such as the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991 have broadened the terms by which an employer can be sued by an employee. In turn, the number of employment-related lawsuits has risen dramatically. Companies can end up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees in employment litigation. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the current median jury verdict is over $250,000.
Writing objective, rather than subjective, write-ups that detail how an employee can improve is key to avoiding legal troubles. Supervisors also need to document issues continually throughout an employee’s time at the company, not just during performance reviews. Otherwise, incidents can snowball or be forgotten, by the time that review comes around.
Good documentation is crucial. It is especially important to know when to document an incident and when not to, based on the severity, frequency, and nature of the violation.
- Documentation lets employees know what is expected of them, praises their good work, records their progress, and suggests areas to improve upon.
- For employers, documentation creates a record of employment actions and provides good evidence if an employee files a complaint or if the employer is sued.