Many employers conduct performance reviews to evaluate the work of current employees. Performance reviews provide evidence an employer can use to determine if an employee will get a raise, a bonus or a promotion. An unsatisfactory performance review provides the employer with cause to terminate the employee's employment. Federal and state laws regulate employee performance reviews.


Employees with a disability have rights that relate to employee performance reviews. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an employer may still apply all production measures to an employee with a disability. However, a disabled employee has rights to reasonable accommodations that are necessary to perform the job. The employer may not remove these reasonable accommodations because of a bad performance review.


State law may require employers to provide access to previous employee performance reviews. This may require the employer to store the performance reviews for several years. According to the State of California, for instance, many employers must either store work records at the workplace, make the records available in a reasonable amount of time or allow the employee to inspect the work records where they are stored. An employee in California retains rights to inspect performance reviews, even if the employee was fired or is on leave.

Required Reviews

Some employers have legal obligations to perform employee performance reviews. Federal agencies, as well as state agencies and universities, may be required to perform these evaluations. Federal laws specify the necessary features of a federal employee performance review. According to the Department of Justice, these codes include regulations which require the storage of these records for a period of four years and require the agencies to provide alternate reports when necessary, such as interim reviews.

Optional Reviews

Private employers do not have a legal obligation to conduct employee performance reviews. According to the Department of Homeland Security, an employer assumes liability when conducting a performance review because of potential discrimination issues. An employer that does not conduct performance reviews also assumes legal risks, since the lack of a performance review may suggest that the employer did not attempt to help an employee improve job performance. Any performance review criteria must specifically relate to the job performance of the employee, and judge all employees according to the same standards.