I must confess I told a little white lie to my 4-year old daughter about how the Easter Bunny was able to leave the eggs so high up on a shelf. I told her, bunnies can hop really, really high and that is how he was able to get it on the high shelf. She was pretty impressed with this feat by the Easter Bunny. In the employment setting though, lying is not recommended, not even little white lies.
Ms. Robin Shea with Constangy, Brooks & Smith LLP wrote an excellent blog on why employers should not tell little white lies to employees. I fully agree with everything she outlines in her post.
Ms. Shea states, “…it is notoriously hard for an employer to tell an employee that he’s not doing a good job, and is one more screw-up away from being fired. Of course, having never been properly warned, the employee then commits the final screw-up and gets fired, and didn’t even see it coming because the employer was so afraid of hurting the employee’s feelings. . . Not only is this unfair to the employee, but it’s also throwing the door wide open to an allegation that the employee was actually terminated for an illegal reason.”
Nothing is more difficult for an attorney than to try to defend a case against an employee, when the employee hasn’t been told the complete or accurate reason for their discipline or dismissal. It makes the job for the attorney more difficult, requiring them to play catch up. Employees have a right to know what mistakes they are making in order to have an opportunity to improve their performance. Notice is fundamental to establish a discipline case.
If you have an employee who is having performance problems, don’t let them think their performance is acceptable. Talk to the employee about the performance issues, and document the problems. This will help you and your attorney if any legal action is subsequently taken by the employee.