In California, there are no specific laws that require employers to issue a formal employee write-up. California is an at-will employment state, meaning employers are generally free to terminate an employee at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all, as long as the reason is not illegal or discriminatory. However, employers are required to follow certain guidelines when documenting employee performance or disciplinary issues.
Guidelines for Employee Write Ups
Employers must follow guidelines related to employee write ups, such as:
- Documentation should be accurate: Any documentation of employee performance or disciplinary issues should be accurate and based on objective facts, not on hearsay or rumors.
- Documentation should be timely: Employers should document employee performance or disciplinary issues as soon as possible after they occur. Delaying documentation can weaken the credibility of the documentation and its effectiveness as evidence if it becomes necessary to use it in legal proceedings.
- Employees have the right to respond: If an employer documents an employee’s performance or disciplinary issue, the employee has the right to respond to the documentation. Employers should provide employees with an opportunity to respond, and the response should be documented as well.
- Documentation should be kept confidential: Employee performance and disciplinary documentation should be kept confidential and should only be shared with those who have a legitimate need to know, such as supervisors, HR personnel, or legal counsel.
- Documentation should comply with state and federal laws.
Types of Employee Write Ups That Are Against the Law
Here are some examples of employee write ups that could potentially violate labor laws:
- Discriminatory write-ups based on race, gender, age, disability, religion, national origin, or other protected characteristics.
- Write-ups that retaliate against an employee for exercising their legal rights, such as filing a complaint of discrimination or harassment, taking a leave of absence, or reporting unsafe work conditions.
- Write-ups that falsely accuse an employee of misconduct or poor performance without evidence.
- Write-ups that violate company policies or collective bargaining agreements.
- Write-ups that are not documented in a timely and accurate manner making it difficult for the employee to respond or defend themselves.
- Write-ups that are used to justify discriminatory or retaliatory disciplinary actions or termination.
It is important for employers to ensure that their employee write-ups are fair, objective, consistent, and comply with all applicable laws and regulations. If an employee believes they have been subjected to an illegal write up, they may consider consulting with an experienced Orange County employment attorney or filing a complaint with the appropriate government agency.
Employee Rights after a Write Up
Employees who receive a write-up that they disagree with or believe is against the law may have legal options to challenge it. Depending on the specific circumstances and applicable laws, here are some potential legal options:
Internal Grievance Procedures
Many companies have internal procedures for addressing employee complaints and grievances. For instance, you can ask for documentation for your alleged performance deficiencies that backs up why you were written up. Then write a grievance about the corrective action and be factual.
Filing a Complaint with a Government Agency
If the write-up violates anti-discrimination or anti-retaliation laws, you can file a complaint with a government agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Department of Labor (DOL).
In some cases, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer. Aegis Law Firm can advise you on your legal rights and options.