Can an employer keep you on a write-up and not give you updates on how you are doing or when it will be over?

UPDATED: Aug 9, 2011

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Can an employer keep you on a write-up and not give you updates on how you are doing or when it will be over?

Approximately 5 months ago, I was on what is called a “Performance Improvement Plan”. I am a supervisor for a large cable company and was told that my job performance had dropped off and that is the reason I’m was placed on write-up. It was supposed to have ended by now but to date I have been given no word. I’ve asked but I’m afraid to bother my manager anymore about this; each time I have asked she has stated that she was waiting on this person or another person. However I feel like this has gone on too long. It has caused me stress every day and I could be told at anytime now that I no longer have a job. I wanted to know if this was right?

Asked on August 9, 2011 Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The first question is, do you have a contract--either an individual employment agreement or a union contact? If you do, its terms in regard to discipline, termination, etc. will control and you need to look to them.

If the answer is no, the second question is whether there is something like an employee handbook. If there is, AND both the following are also true--it address the issue of discripline, write-ups, etc., and it also does not have any language limiting its effect, stating that it doesn't alter employee at will status, or otherwise making its terms only guidelines, not rules--then it may be that you can enforce the terms set forth in the handbook. Be aware that most employee handbooks, however, have no binding effect, since they have language limiting their power.

If the answer to the question is also no, if you were given written procedures or guidelines in the Performance Improvement Plan--particularly if you and a supervisor both signed it--those guidelines might create enforceable rights or procedures.

Note that if the answer to any of the above seems to be "yes," you should take the document(s) to an employment attorney to review with you.

If the answer to all the above is no, you are an employee at will, and an employee at will can be disciplined, suspended, demoted, or even fired at any time, for any reason; you would have very little in the way of enforceable rights.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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