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The holiday season is nearly upon us. I know what you’re thinking — I’m going to intone the usual cautions about holiday parties and love affairs at the office, and urge employers to require employees involved in amorous relationships to sign, on penalty of perjury, the infamous “love contracts” that employment lawyers tend to prattle on about at this time of year.

But you would be wrong. Instead, I am here to talk about the second-most important aspect of the employment relationship that employers, including law firms, face at year-end: performance appraisals. Here, then, I offer a “Top Ten” list (for the Letterman fans), or a “Ten Commandments of Performance Appraisals” (for the fundamentalists) of what to do, and what not to do, when creating these critically important documents — which are often the first line of defense (for employers, when prepared well) and offense (for plaintiffs, when prepared poorly) in an employment discrimination lawsuit.

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