Job Performance Standards & The Law

I was recently asked whether an employer can threaten to fire an employee if the employee does not perform at 100% production. The short answer is yes. The law does not regulate what performance standards employers may set. Whether a particular standard is fair is not really relevant to the law. The exception to this general statement of the law is when an employer imposes a standard on an employee for an unlawful motive–discrimination based on a protected characteristic such as race, religion, gender, disability, age, etc., or in retaliation for an employee objecting to unlawful discrimination or pursuit of some other protected right. If the standard is imposed for the purpose of getting someone fired or to quit, and the decision-maker is doing so with an improper discriminatory motive, then the Federal, state and local discrimination laws may provide either some protection from that standard or a remedy for damages resulting from the violation.

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