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  • Writer's pictureS. Anne Marie Archer

How to use your performance review process to document a hostile work environment

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

So, you believe or know you are in a discriminatory hostile work environment and your manager is using your performance review process.

How do you turn that around to your benefit in the performance review process? And how do you use that process to document a discriminatory or otherwise hostile work environment?

If your manager writes a negative comment or comments in your review, do the following things

1. Request that the comment be revised or removed. If a manager writes a comment that you believe is false misleading or missing context, request that it either be revised or removed.

2. Write your own response. If the manager refuses to revise or remove a negative nonfactual comment in your review, you should write a response and escalate the concerns to Human Resources (HR). Ask HR to intervene. If they do not, ask that your written response be included in your employee file with your performance review. If you don’t believe what is written is factual then you should use that performance review process to refute the comment and share your take on the situation. Include examples and concrete facts to support your concerns. If HR sides with the manager (and many do), make sure you write your concerns in an email directed to the manager and HR and include your written response. This gives you a trail that you may need later.

3. Use the performance review response to document a discriminatory or otherwise hostile work environment. If you are in a situation where your manager is creating a hostile work environment and/or a discriminatory hostile work environment, and those circumstances are impacting your ability to perform your job, your performance review response is a perfect place to also document those concerns with facts and examples. Especially, in this case, a copy of your response should be submitted to HR for inclusion in your employee file IN WRITING.

4. Write a timely response. Do not let time lapse between when the review is written and when you respond. As soon as you read the review and see something you disagree with, you should go to step 1 above and then step 2. Do not let weeks or months go by before responding.

The key is to always respond and to respond timely to any negative comments in your performance review.

Never let a manager write a single negative comment in your review without writing a response. EVER.

Concerns about Retaliation. It is not uncommon for managers to retaliate against employees who raise concerns with HR. Make sure you read any employee policies about reporting workplace misconduct and follow them. Read any anti-bullying policies as well and follow the reporting instructions, if they are there. Document any incidents of retaliation and report them to Human Resources promptly. This could set you on the path to negotiating a separation with severance so don’t let retaliation scare you. A manager stupid enough to retaliate is a gift from the HR Gods if you are ultimately seeking a separation with severance. Always Document and Report.

Not ready to go it alone? That’s what I am here for. I offer HR consulting and support for employees caught in bad work environments.

Whether it’s a bullying boss, open discrimination, or other toxic hostile work issues. I am here to advise and support you.

Please reach out and Book a Discovery Call so we can talk about how I might help.

If you need help navigating a discriminatory hostile work environment, or you want to get out of one, perhaps with some severance pay, Book a HWEES Discovery Call.

For more tips about navigating and escaping difficult HR situations,

Follow me on IG and Tik Tok @theantihrhrlady

And on LinkedIn at

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HR is not your enemy but they are definitely not your friend, I am.

I am the AntiHR, HRLady and I’m here to help.

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