I was placed under a new supervisor (John) on Oct 1 2014, the beginning of our fiscal year. On Oct 24 2014 John told me that he was going to fire me. I went to the director "Eric" of our division and informed him of what transpired and that I was very uncomfortable being assigned to John, "Eric" said he would talk to John and get back with me. In November I was told that he had spoken to him about what had happened and John said that he was joking when he said that he was going to fire me. I took it with a grain of salt and let it go.

In January my work load decreased by 1/2 by the end of February I had nothing to do, nothing. When I spoke to John he said that he was just trying to make it easier. When I asked him for whom he just said he was busy and walked away from me. I went to Eric again and informed him that I had no work to do and that I was coming into the office for 8 hours a day and sitting in front of blank computer screens.

Then on March 22nd John gave me the worse Mid-Year performance review ever, my end of year review from another supervisor in October 2014 was Excellent and Outstanding, the Mid Year review I received was Unsuccessful and Needs Improvement, when I asked him why he said that I was not being productive, and he found that I did not return his emails prompt enough to suit him, and that the training I was taking was higher then my grade level, and I needed to "Stay in my Lane, and within my grade level if I wanted to stay as one of his employees.

John told me he couldn't fault my knowledge that is why he gave me a successful under technical skills, but that everything else was unsuccessful because I was working outside my grade level and taking on responsibilities above my position.

I don't want to sign this Mid-Year and I don't want to blow my top on the comments he put in there, where can I go to get help with comments? What is my recourse? Eric is no longer with this division he was promoted to Washington DC in February, and My previous Supervisor retired in January.

How can I avoid being fired in this situation?

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    From a couple of points in your question I am guessing this is some government position? (higher than your grade level and he was promoted to Washington DC). If so from what I have heard it is rather hard to fire some one with just one bad review so you may have some time but I would start looking for another position. May 6, 2015 at 20:49
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    This question is really too broad, it could have a bunch of possible answers depending on the size of the company, where you are located, etc. That said, if you have a formal performance review process your recourse is probably to follow whatever the procedure is for an employee that does not accept her supervisor's review. May 6, 2015 at 20:50
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    This question is very related and the answers there contain what you are looking for, most likely.
    – enderland
    May 6, 2015 at 20:59
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    In the UK this behaviour would meet the criteria of constructive dismissal, and so long as you had evidence of all of this it would be easy to take your situation to a lawyer and then either a court or tribunal and have them make a ruling on it.
    – user34687
    May 7, 2015 at 8:38
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    If he was going to fire you he would have fired you already. He's clearly trying to intimidate you into resigning. Start documenting everything. Maybe even explore the possibility of secretly recording conversations with John - provided it is legal for you to do so - which no-one here can advise. (However it is usually legal to secretly record your own conversations/phone calls.) May 7, 2015 at 9:51

2 Answers 2


Yes, he is trying to fire you. You need to hire a labor lawyer immediately. From the phrasing, you are a US government civil service employee. You have protections that many others do not have.

You need to gather evidence that he is trying to sabotage your work and you need a lawyer to fight for you. Make sure you have an off-site copy of everything related to your problem with your supervisor. Copies of emails where you ask for work (send at least one every day), copies of emails where he took work away from you, copy of the latest eval and the previous evals, copies of anything that might be relevant. Take written notes of the statements and date them where he said things like he was going to fire you or that you were working our of your grade level. At least do this going forward. Create a daily log when you put in any relevant notes about how you asked for work, how you asked for feedback on how to improve etc. What ever is in your PIP, do. With a poor appraisal, he needs to give you a chance to make the chances he is asking for. You need to have a performance improvement plan. Specifically request one.

From this point on, do nothing verbally that is not followed up with an email to document.

I have seen Civil Service workers win such cases (not so much in private industry). Hire a lawyer today. Do not consider signing the review until you have checked with a lawyer.

  • ALWAYS keep hard copies of your performance reviews. It not only helps in cases like this, but many companies accept them (after negotiating the details) in lieu of a reference from someone that works at your current company. That is very helpful when finding a new job, since you already have beaming reviews from past years. This is a godsend when applying for a new job and you don't want your current employer to know what's going on. If they refuse to provide you with the reviews, then something's fishy, and you're almost certainly going to need a labor lawyer. Start job hunting now.
    – Cloud
    May 6, 2015 at 22:50
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    +1 for hiring a lawyer. This looks like constructive dismissal, which is illegal in most western jurisdictions. May 7, 2015 at 8:57
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    And meanwhile, start looking for another job. Even if you win this, the environment it creates is likely unpleasant.
    – Martijn
    May 7, 2015 at 13:08

You can still contact Eric in Washington, DC and ask him for advice. You need to contact Eric anyway to ask him to act as your reference.

Your review stinks. It's also at odds when every previous review you got. I suggest that you contact John's manager and explain to him that John's review is at odds with every previous review that you got and that John is going out of his way to penalize you from using your initiative. Make John feel that he is not operating in a vacuum and that he could be held accountable for his actions.

If Eric remembers your complain to him back in Oct 2014 that John had made explicit his desire to fire you - jog Eric's memory if you have to, then you have eyewitness testimony that John was up to no good back then.

Having said that, consider transferring out from under John. John wants to get rid of you in the worst way and if you don't react, he will get rid of you in the worst way - by trashing your good name. If, as @keshlam notes, transfer under a poor review is impossible, then you have no option but to fight and have the performance review quashed. After that, transfer the hell out of there. You can't hang around a scorpions' nest without expecting to be bitten.

  • Warning: in some companies you can not be transferred while you have an unsatisfactory review. That's another strong reason to get this review overturned... and to consider starting a job search now if you don't have cash reserves to keep you comfortable while you do so later. It's possible to survive this sort of nonsense, but it can be intensely unpleasant and requires a willingness to fight it through. It's certainly better for the company if you fight an unjustified termination; it may or may not be better for you.
    – keshlam
    May 7, 2015 at 15:15
  • @keshlam - that is true. At my company the process of giving a bad employee an average review and talking them up to other groups is called "pass the trash". This happens at huge globals - where they hardly ever fire anyone. If you want to move or get a raise be really good or really bad.
    – blankip
    May 7, 2015 at 17:31

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