Refusing to sign a job evaluation

Q and A

Help Wanted

June 15, 2005

Q: If an employee received an annual performance evaluation and does not agree with the rating, is it required that the worker sign the form and then address their concerns in it? Or should an employee refuse to sign the evaluation until the supervisor and the employee come to some agreement of a fair evaluation?

S.D.H., Baltimore

A: You need to review your company policy to determine the appropriate steps to address a grievance. For the most part, a signature, unless stipulated on the form or in the policy, typically indicates that you acknowledge receipt of the evaluation, not necessarily your agreement with the ratings. It is important for you to review existing policies and to respond accordingly.

THOMAS C. BAILEY assistant professor , applied behavioral sciences division

Q: When a job posting includes "minorities strongly urged to apply," what's the most appropriate way to address this to let the employer know that you are a minority?

M.W., Randallstown

A: The phrase "minorities and women are encouraged to apply" has a long history. As this nation codified its anti-discrimination laws in the 1960s, some employers slowly recognized that there was real value in diversity - they voluntarily embraced the language and actively recruited in that fashion. Others simply abided by the law that forbade discrimination in recruitment. As the concept has evolved, the default appears to be that the language conveys the fact that no one can be ruled out simply because of their race or gender. You could take "strongly encouraged" as a signal that the employer is actively recruiting minorities. If so, minority status could be a plus in getting your application considered seriously. On the other hand, this language could just be a slightly tweaked form of the legal standard. Finally, it could be an official interest in diversity that is not actually shared by the person doing the hiring. An applicant should study a company and learn about its commitment to diversity to know whether his or her minority status could provide an advantage to landing the job. Here are some appropriate ways to indicate that status: Will it enhance your ability to do the job? If so, outline the reasons. Applicants often include activities that hint at their background. Keep in mind that "minorities and women are encouraged to apply" is a serious, legally meaningful phrase. No employer takes it lightly.

ELLEN KABCENELL WAYNE assistant professor of negotiations and conflict management, TOM MITCHELL director of graduate programs in applied psychology, and THOMAS BAILEY

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