Under stack ranking evaluations, your colleagues become your competitors, and the workplace transforms into a battleground to curry your manager’s favor and win a higher performance ranking than your peer.

It’s a controversial performance review system, also known as the “rank and yank,” that was popularized by GE CEO Jack Welch in the 1980s (GE phased out the practice in the mid-2000s). Even if two employees’ performances are equivalent, managers must rank all of their employees along a predetermined formula, so that no one’s performance can be equal to another’s.

A new lawsuit from a former Uber engineer, Roxana Del Toro Lopez, is alleging that this ranking system is discriminatory toward women employees and that the lower rankings result in lower pay and fewer promotions.

The research on ranking

When bosses must choose between their employees, gender bias research finds that managers’ unconscious biases will get used to grade employees. A Harvard Law School study found that women are 1.4 times more likely to receive subjective feedback in their performance reviews that have nothing to do with how well they can do the job. A male worker’s careful thoughtfulness was seen as “analysis paralysis” in his female colleague, for instance.

“The problem with forced ranking is that it forces managers to make artificial distinctions between employees that don’t reflect performance,” Del Toro Lopez’s lawyer told Bloomberg News. Uber has not commented on the lawsuit, but it recently overhauled its performance review system after ex-Uber engineer Susan Fowler wrote a blog post alleging workplace sexual harassment and management issues. As part of that overhaul, Uber employees are no longer ranked or rated along hard numbers, and goals and feedback are now emphasized. Uber’s new senior vice-president for leadership and strategy Frances Frei said that the goal is now to make feedback a tool Read More Here