A dispute often arises between an employee and his manager over a particular aspect of the issued performance review. As an employee, it’s important that you keep in mind the your employer has a wide discretion in expressing his opinions about your performance. The fact that you feel that your performance review is unfair or too harsh generally does not give rise to any legal issues or claims, unless there is actual evidence that the reason for that bad is discriminatory or retaliatory (i.e. based on your being a member of a protected class, or due to you engaging in a protected activity, as defined by law).
Should you sign that bad performance review that was issued to you? There is no reason not to. In most cases, by signing your review, whether it’s positive or negative, you only acknowledge that you have received it and read it. It doesn’t mean that you agree with its contents. Of course, before you sign you should read the fine print below or above the space for your signature that says what the meaning of your signature will be exactly. Signing your performance review has no legal significance.
On the other hand, if you refuse to sign your performance review because you disagree with it, you can be accused of insubordination and disciplined as a result, which would be perfectly legal. Moreover, one court recently held that an employee who was fired for refusing to sign acknowledging receipt of a document was disqualified from unemployment benefits.