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Navigating PIPs, racial injustice and dealing with old bosses.

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

The Black In HR (TM)'s weekly column with Ayesha J. Whyte, JD, SPHR is an opportunity for our readers to ask questions important to them to a skilled and experienced HR executive and attorney. Ayesha is a strategic human resources leader and seasoned attorney who has served in leadership roles at The Walt Disney Company, Amtrak and WeWork. This week, Ayesha provides guidance and answers questions important to our readers on navigating PIPs, racial injustice and dealing with old bosses.

Question: My colleague has been put on a PIP - he wants to go ahead and resign as to not have a termination on his record. He is on contract until the end of May but the PIP expires mid April. (They probably have no plans to renew his contract) Can he just give two weeks instead of the 30 days it states in the contract? Also, what is your take on having terminations on your record? With him being on a PIP and resigning will that leave a negative mark on his employment record (employment verification).

Ayesha: This question has a lot of layers and I have a few questions myself but I will respond with the following assumptions:

  • Your colleague is on a limited and renewable contract for the employer.

  • He does not believe that he will successfully complete the performance improvement plan (PIP).

Currently, for legal reasons, most companies will only answer limited questions regarding previous employment. Those includes:

  • Dates of employment

  • Title(s) Held

  • Resignation or Termination for Cause

  • If employee is eligible for rehire at the company

PIPs are not revealed to future employers during employment verification. Amicable resignations are always better than terminations. If your colleague’s contract states that he will give 30 days notice, he should, especially to preserve the good relationship with the company/agency.

Question: How can we ensure that structural changes to address racial injustice become adopted as long-term company culture, rather than short-term solutions and sensitivities?

Ayesha: Honestly, as much as Human Resources and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion practitioners want to ensure this, it has to be a commitment of the company/organization. It has to be a true commitment and endeavor of the CEO and/or the board to have anti-racism be as aligned with the company mission and vision as its functional operations. Only time will tell which workplaces are committed.

Question: My old boss has joined my current company as the head of our talent team. This person was terminated from our last employer for discriminatory behavior during the talent process, and I was a witness in the investigation. Should I bring this up to my leadership and how do I avoid being retaliated against?

Ayesha: I do not think you should unless you believe the same behavior is now showing at your current company. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  1. Your old boss’ employment history was shown on their resume and your current company could have solicited your advice or feedback during the hiring process and did not.

  2. It is possible that your current company knows about the prior incident due to background checking and references or by disclosure from your former boss.

You bringing up an investigation at a previous employer without having something else to tie it to at the current company may cause more problems for you than it is worth. However, if you see any signs of discriminatory behavior at your current company by your old boss, you should definitely report it in writing.

From Ayesha: Advice & opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

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