Poor performance is a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for an Agency
to propose a reassignment, demotion or removal from federal service or other
. When your performance rating falls below the acceptable standard for
your position, the Agency must provide you with a meaningful opportunity
to improve before they can propose an adverse action based on poor performance.
In order to meet this obligation the Agency will implement a Performance
Improvement Plan or Performance Improvement Period (PIP). A PIP is a commonly
used administrative tool to provide an employee with additional training
or focus on the critical elements of their position that the Agency has
identified as deficient. By placing an employee on a PIP prior to proposing
such adverse personnel actions the Agency is documenting that they have
with a meaningful opportunity to improve.
In order for the opportunity to improve to be "meaningful" the
employee must be made aware of several things when being placed on a PIP.
First, the Agency must make it clear to the employee that they have observed
performance deficiencies in critical elements of that employee's position.
The employee must then be told specifically what they must do in order
to achieve a successful rating; the standards by which their improvement
will be evaluated or measured; what guidance, training or assistance management
is willing to provide; and the consequences if the employee fails to improve
at the conclusion of the PIP. In addition the employee should be made
aware of the length of the PIP, including the start and end date or any
extensions thereof. Assuming you successfully improve under a PIP you
will be notified by the Agency and should resume employment without further action.
In the event that the Agency determines that you failed to improve or correct
the performance deficiencies identified in the PIP, a notice of proposed
action is most likely in your future. Regardless of whether or not you
feel you truly failed to improve under the PIP, there are a variety of
procedural mistakes the Agency could have made in the implementation or
execution of your PIP and/or in the issuance of a notice of proposed removal
or demotion. A
federal employment attorney
can evaluate the best way of challenging an adverse action like a termination,
that came about because of a PIP.