“Write-ups” are very common in some companies. Essentially, if an employer believes that a worker has not performed the duties of their job, they may add a write-up to the employee’s file marking the perceived transgression.
In most cases, the employer will say that the employee must read and sign the write-up. Before an employee decides to sign or not-sign a write-up, it is advisable to understand the concept of at-will employment and to read the write-up carefully.
The majority of employers in the US hire employees under an at-will employment agreement. This means that the employer has the right to terminate the employee for nearly any reason, at any time. There are some exceptions to this, but at-will employment is common.
This means that if an employee does decline to sign a write-up, it is usually within the employer’s rights to terminate that employee.
Reading the write-up
If your employer gives you a write-up, make sure to read the document thoroughly. In many cases, signing the document does not mean that you agree with the contents of the write-up: it merely means that you have read it.
It is often possible to submit a written rebuttal to write-ups. This rebuttal will go into your file along with the write-up, documenting your disagreement to the write-up and explaining your side of the story.
In most cases, it is possible to fire an employee who does not sign a write-up. However, discrimination laws still apply, even in at-will employment situations. If an employer serves you with a write-up for a reason related to a protected status, you may have a case.