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  • signing a performance letter North Carolina North Dakota Ohio

    ---I am a salesman for a large medical supply company. Recently, I have been notified that I must sign a performance letter stating that if I dont meet a dollar quota of sales by the end of the quarter, then I am subject to being fired. This comes after being the top salesman of the company for the last 3 years. This supposed motivational technique was seemingly dreamt up by the company VP, and all salesmen are supposed to sign it. Several others have been fired previously, or quit from pressure, but this is the first time we have been presented with these letters.

    I think NC is a fire at will state, and i dont have a written contract with this company. Do these letters violate any Labor laws that anyone knows of? I will never quit, because i know its better to be fired and get the benefits between jobs. Just want o know if I have any legal options in case i am fired over thsi letter--i have been informed that i will be fired immediately if i dont sign it.

    Last edited by rokakona; 04-06-2007, 06:48 PM. Reason: north carolina only

  • #2
    no it isn't illegal to tell you in writing what the expectations are. Not even close. You can be fired for refusing to sign or not meeting the expectations your employer has for you. That isn't illegal either.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply. I thought this might not be illegal, but i do believe its pure chicken crap. What this does is force an employee under duress of losing their job to sign a paper that basically forces you to agree to be fired if you cant meet some expectation of performance, even if that performance is unreasonable and unrealistic.

      so i guess nothing would keep an employer, like McDonalds for instance, who wants to tank a manager for no apparent reason in order to put the boss's daughter in the job---and in order to insulate themselves from any wrongfull termination liability or problems in general, just give this manager a piece of paper to sign saying that he agrees to be terminated if he doesnt sell 2 million hamburgers by the close of business that day. he cant do it, so he's gone. and if he protests as to the performance required to be unreasonable, then he is immediately terminated.

      so much for the protection of labor laws---about as good as ERISA. Another shell game where the lobbyist with the most money wins.



      • #4
        Wait a minute.

        Are you saying that you shouldn't be held accountable for performance? Further, do you know how many people on this board would love to have such a metric laid out in black and white?

        However, it doesn't do the employer any good to lose good employees through unacheivable goals. The goals you have been given - are they possible? Have others acheived similar numbers?

        To your other question - if I owned a McDonalds and wanted to put in a different manager, why would I go through the game of giving him/her an unrealistic objective? I would just fire him/her - and I can do so with or without cause at any time.
        Not everything that makes you mad, sad or uncomfortable is legally actionable.

        I am not now nor ever was an attorney.

        Any statements I make are based purely upon my personal experiences and research which may or may not be accurate in a court of law.


        • #5
          Are the Senior members of this board sure that this individual can be fired for refusing to sign a company document?

          It has been my experience in NY that such a practice is unlawful.


          • #6
            Would you care to provide a cite to that effect?
            The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


            • #7
              Yes, i do believe the employer is entitled to expect a certain level of performance. and they can fire people at will. the reason i would think legally for presenting such a paper is to have a recent sharp arrow in your quiver in case the fired employee sues on some theory of wrongful termination. They merely pull out this piece of paper and show where you agreed to it, seemingly wthout having to mention that you had a perverbial gun to your head in doing so.

              it would seem to me that if this was a valid method, then if every salesman that signed this fell short of the goals, they should all be fired IF any other one is fired ( for this reason). To fire one and not the other would seemingly open other areas of liability for wrongful termination.

              what this sort of thing doesnt take into account is the various territories where this equipment is sold---the mountains of NC do not have the money that the research triangle park hospitals do, hence a disparity in the resourses and chances of reaching the prospective goals. and the goals set are the same for each territory.

              what i am comtemplating is that this is a firing tool for certain employees that have an issue with the VP, who came up with this scheme i guess as some sort of motivational sales techniques; as a justification for his existence. its a cover for the real motives, and a CYA attempt. I am just looking for a nuclear legal option in case i am ever onthe receiving you may be able to tell, i will never have chapped lips from kissing his ***.....

              For myself personnally, i have a decent territory, and have met my quota for this quarter. But when you are threatened with your job every quarter as some sort of new policy, it just doesnt sit well. in fact, i am making calls to check out other employment opportunities, as are the other 5 salesmen who have not made the numbers and dont think they will. talk about backfiring in terms of performance motivation.. I have been doing this for many years, and i am amazed that you can never underestimate the stupidity of business school grads.

              as far as the McDonalds manager, i think that a million hamburgers by the end of the day is a little unreasonable, dont you? But he has no room to negotiate it, or he is immmediately fired. i guess they could just fire him outright, but then they would have no real reason based on performance to substitute the boss's daughter, would they? I have to read up some more on wrongfull termination and what constitutes a prima facia case. seems like a moot term if you can fire anyone for anything at anytime, except maybe civil rights or something.

              thanks ......


              • #8
                The second one was about a non-compete clause.

                There were others but Firefox is having a problem bringing up a second instance of GOOGLE.

                By compelling employees to sign anything isn't that making duress legal?


                • #9
                  thanks TONYAFD for the great link. This goes to prove my point, I believe, that these performance letters are a shell game and more bullets in a employers gun to drum someone out. Of course this wasnt retaliation for her putting the NLRB onthe company to pay the profit sharing money.....yea right. But she should have signed it anyway, and i think she would have had more of a case later in court. they dont necessarily have to fire you for failure to meet the goals in these performance letters, but at least they have a record with which to substantiate their actions during litigation.

                  Upon further research, I see that there are de facto contracts with employers by long term employees as outlined by standard business practices as well as employer's handbooks or guidelines. Not a lot of regular employees with a company have a signed detail employment contract, including me. So it seems that building a record of against an employee long term is a good defense against any wrongful termination action based on actual or quasi contract in the future. Just having the right to fire at any time and any reason seems to not be as simple as cyjeff contemplates--there is usually an ulterior reason why these people go through the effort they do with some of these directives.

                  As far as a motivational tool, where they use such a letter as a stick to threaten your job, i think it's counter productive. So I guess i will have to start my own company, or begin keeping records of my own to be more secure in this job, or any job. If there is such a thing. In the past , salesmen were terminated when their performance was substandard as compared with their peers, not an arbitrary standard, however reasonable or unreasonable. Although this letter may not be directed at me, I appreciate the input and the advice, in case it is used against me at a later time. It is disconcerting nevertheless.


                  • #10
                    It is not illegal to require written clarification of your job duties up to and including performance.

                    If you don't have to sign the document, but they are within their rights to fire you for refusal.

                    I find the above quoted document confusing. Not only did the document discuss a performance review given in response to a complaint, but, even at that, found that the employee didn't have a case.
                    Not everything that makes you mad, sad or uncomfortable is legally actionable.

                    I am not now nor ever was an attorney.

                    Any statements I make are based purely upon my personal experiences and research which may or may not be accurate in a court of law.


                    • #11
                      Tony, a single instance, in a different state, which involves ERISA violations is hardly "proof" that a blanket rule exists. It's one thing to use a performance appraisal as a pretext to terminate someone for an illegal reason, as in the case you posted. But this situation is hardly the same thing. Particularly since the poster can be fired for not meeting expectations whether or not he signs such a document.
                      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


                      • #12
                        Most employee handbooks do not rise to the standard of "de facto contracts." Thats because there are all those disclaimers that this isnt a contract and isnt intended to be one.
                        I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
                        Thomas Jefferson


                        • #13
                          Morgana, let me state as an attorney that i find your adherence to the printed word interesting. They are the reason the companies post all these disclaimers-----what good would medical benefits be as described in an employer's handbook if , the minute you got sick, they could just say;" Ah, too bad morgana--didnt you see the little print that says this doesnt make a contract, yada yada, and we were just printing emergency toilet paper when we made these handbooks, and figured it would be interesting reading before you used it", and then you say "thats right , im screwed" , and go on your merry way.

                          Instead, get an attorney, who would most likely tell you that it is indeed a contract upon which you relied in order to accept employment. You relied to your detriment on the words of the handbook saying that the employer would provide you with coverage, and because you believed them, you didnt get private coverage for yourself. therefore you relied on their statements to your detriment, and that makes a great case of contract by detrimental reliance. you can write a contract giving the picture of a dog, and calling it a cat, but it's still a dog.

                          Businesses do this stuff everyday and get by with a lot. 1st year contract law is full of dry cleaning cases--and if you have ever been to a dry cleaners, you know they are not responsible for anything if you believe the boilerplate clauses on their tickets. thats what they hope you will do. so you take in your $300 cashmere, and it comes back like its been through a shredder, I am sure the disclaimer will win the day....NOT.

                          companies that offer benefits can make all sorts of implied contracts to employees---the problem is that the employee cannot afford to fight most of the time, and just go away.