How To Write a Complaint Letter About a Coworker

Managing conflict and complaints in any workplace keeps everyone, from workers to clients to supervisors, safe, content, and satisfied with their jobs. Oftentimes, workplaces can be hostile or unhealthy for employees due to a variety of reasons and the employer may not be aware. Learning how to write a formal complaint letter about a coworker can be a useful tool in difficult work environments.

If you are having trouble with a coworker and are wondering what steps to take, be sure to document your situation, confront the person, and, should none of this work, proceed to write a formal complaint letter. The first step is understanding what a hostile work situation is, what merits a formal complaint, and then how to handle the situation.

If you are facing a hostile work environment and still have questions or concerns after reading this article, please contact our consulting team here at ACUTE. Contact the experts at ACUTE today to learn more about their consulting services for workplace violence and harassment and see how they can help you and your workplace today. A safe working environment requires everyone to be on board.

Before we get to “how” it’s important to start with “when”. When should you resort to writing a formal complaint letter? There are two steps you should take before writing a letter: documenting and confronting. However, before any of that, it’s important to know if the situation requires this kind of addressing. Here is a list of questions to ask yourself before proceeding with formal a complaint:

Complaint Letter Against Senior Co-Worker | Complain Against Leader Or Supervisor

How to write a formal complaint letter about a coworker

A manager can help you resolve a conflict with a coworker as long as they are fully aware of the issues youre experiencing. Follow these steps to write a complaint letter to your boss about someone else you work with:

1. Try to resolve the conflict on your own

If you think your conflict with a coworker is something you can resolve together, then consider attempting to write a letter to your boss. You may find that your mutual issues are because of a misunderstanding. Its common for colleagues to work together on resolving their problems and being able to work even better together because of the experience they went through.

2. Make sure you have an issue to report

Some individuals find it difficult to work closely with a colleague because of a personality quirk or frustrating habit, so consider how valid your complaint is before deciding to write a formal letter. If your coworkers actions have made you feel uncomfortable or harassed, or if their actions greatly affect your productivity and work ethic, then it may be worth writing the letter to your manager.

When youre determining if the situation warrants a letter, think about your own behavior. If you somehow contributed to the issue, it may be best to reexamine the situation, rectify your actions and see if the problem continues. If youre at all responsible for the problem, then your boss may not take your complaint as seriously, or you may be in trouble too.

3. State the purpose of the letter

The beginning of your letter should make it clear why youre writing. Make sure your boss has no questions about what they can expect to read about in the letter.

Because workplace complaints can be serious, and many employers want to address these issues as quickly as possible, your directness in explaining your letters purpose can ensure that your manager gives it the proper attention. Without these immediate details, you may risk a delay in your manager reviewing your letter, meaning the conflict you have with your coworker may take longer to resolve.

4. Include a lot of details

Ideally, before writing your letter, you have kept a record of the interactions youve had with your coworker that proves the conflict youve been experiencing. Refer to it when writing your letter so you can include as many details as possible. Share the incidents in chronological order so your manager can understand the series of events and how different parts of your conflict may have escalated to the place you are now with your coworker.

Even though youre involved in the situation, try to remain without bias as youre sharing the details. Keep a neutral tone and relay the information very factually. Do not include any assumptions or inappropriate accusations.

Consider including these additional details:

Your manager and a member of human resources will need to know the employees name that youre complaining about. Include their job title and your relationship to them, whether they are a supervisor, coworker on the same team in the office or a colleague from another department. This will help the human resources manager determine who they need to involve in resolving the conflict.

If others have witnessed the conflict with your coworker, include their names, job titles and what they witnessed. Your manager or the human resources professional at your organization may need to investigate your claims and ask witnesses about their experience.

You may have texts, emails, voicemails or other correspondence that you can use as evidence to support your claim of conflict or a hostile work environment. Include copies when able and refer to the evidence you have, like voicemails, that you cannot include in a letter.

5. Explain your involvement in the situation

Your boss may wonder what your involvement has been in your conflict, so be free with the information. Explain how you may have attempted to resolve your issues with your coworker and how their actions have made you feel. Make sure you correlate their actions to your feelings and work environment. You can take this time to reiterate your job duties and how they are affected by the situation youre in.

6. Propose a resolution

While youre writing your letter, think about how youd like the conflict to resolve. Explore the different options, which may involve reassigning you to a new team or going through a conflict resolution program with your coworker. You may decide that the conflict is so great that youd like to see the end of your coworkers employment with the company, like in the case of a hostile work environment because of severe harassment.

7. Make a copy of your letter

Its important to keep a copy of your signed letter for your records. If the conflict continues or your manager misplaces your letter before they have the time to take any action, you can provide a new copy of the letter as needed. You can also provide copies to anyone else who may need it, like if you have an entire management team or human resources manager who should be aware of your situation.

What is a complaint letter?

A complaint letter is a correspondence usually written from an employee to a manager and human resources professional at the company that includes a complaint about a coworkers actions. Complaint letters are effective at giving details to the appropriate individuals who can address any instances of workplace hostility that have developed between employees.

Here are some reasons you may write a complaint letter:

Tips for writing a complaint letter about a coworker

Here are some tips that can help guide you as youre writing your letter:

Use a business letter format

Since this is a formal complaint, use a business letter format to address your issues.

Thank the reader

Thanking your manager or human resources for reading your letter and addressing your concerns can help you end the letter on a positive note and show the faith you have that youll all come to a resolution. Your readers may also be more willing to help if you maintain a good attitude through this process.

File a complaint as soon as you can

Dont allow too much time to pass after you realize the problem youre facing. Its best to address an issue right away if you arent getting to a workable solution quick enough or at all.

Hand deliver your letter

If possible, make your boss aware that youll be stopping by their desk to give them something important. You may even want to schedule a meeting with your manager so you can speak privately about your issue and be there as they read your formal letter. This will ensure that they have the time to discuss these important matters with you and show how serious you are about your situation.

Dont get too personal

Even though your conflict may feel personal, and may be very personal, try not to include your emotions in the letter. Instead, be straightforward and factual about the incidences youve had with your coworker. Itll be easier for your direct boss or the human resources manager to process the situation when they can understand the inappropriate actions someone took versus trying to understand your feelings about it. Try explaining how you feel without using emotive language.

Reference your employee handbook

Reference your employee handbook before you write your letter to see if there is anything in there that mentions the situation you may be in and how the company vows to handle it. You may find it helpful to have this information at your disposal so you know what to expect, but also so you can mention these details in your letter.

Keep your letter short

While you want to include all the details youve made note of, keep your letter as short as possible. If there are a lot of incidences youve kept track of, think about including one or two of the major ones and directing your manager to refer to your attached document for additional details.

Template for a complaint letter to your boss about a coworker

Use this template for guidance if you need to write your own complaint letter about someone you work with:

[Your full name] [Your job title]


[Recipients name] [Recipients job title]
[Company name]

Re: Formal complaint against [name of other employee]

Dear [recipients name]:

The purpose of this letter is to file a formal complaint against [name of other employee] who works as a [other employees job title]. As there have now been several incidences between us that we have been unable to resolve, I feel its appropriate to take the next steps in addressing my concerns.

On [date of one incident], [employees name] [details of the incident, including witnesses and what the employee said or did that was inappropriate]. Because I am a [personal attributes] employee, I was deeply affected by their [words and/or actions] and [description of the impact their actions had in the workplace]. Please see my attached notes for additional details.

I hope that by bringing this to your attention, we can [proposed resolution].


[Your name or signature]
[Your title]

Complaint letter example

Use this example as inspiration for writing your own complaint letter to your boss or human resources manager:

Christine Stanley
Inside Sales Representative

August 23, 2020

William Washington
Senior Sales Manager
Fitness Gurus, Inc.

Re: Formal complaint against Eva Daniels

Dear William:

Im writing to file a formal complaint against my global sales project teammate Eva Daniels. I have tried to resolve our conflict directly, but I feel the situation has escalated and so I am reaching out to management.

On August 1, Eva was two hours late to work, which affected the beginning of our project and caused us to miss a joint meeting with a potential client. I addressed my concerns with her at that time. Since then, she has been at least one hour late every day and has made it difficult for us to turn in joint projects on time. As a loyal employee who works hard, I dont want to let another employee affect my productivity or the success of this project.

Im asking for your help in resolving this issue so we can reestablish a productive work environment and meet our future deadlines.


Christine Stanley
Inside Sales Representative


How do I write a letter of complaint to my boss about a coworker?

Follow these steps to write a complaint letter to your boss about someone else you work with:
  1. Try to resolve the conflict on your own. …
  2. Make sure you have an issue to report. …
  3. State the purpose of the letter. …
  4. Include a lot of details. …
  5. Explain your involvement in the situation. …
  6. Propose a resolution. …
  7. Make a copy of your letter.

How do I complain about a condescending coworker?

Call Him on It

You can address bad office behavior by telling people when their actions are not OK with you. Calmly and professionally call out the patronizing person without making a scene or being dramatic by pointedly yet politely saying, “Gee, that comment sounded a bit condescending to me.

How do you write a complaint letter about an employee being rude?

These are the elements to include in your complaint letter:
  1. A brief summary of the issue you are reporting.
  2. Details of the event(s) mentioned, as well as time, date, and context of the incident. …
  3. Details of the violation of policy. …
  4. Details of the steps you have taken to resolve the problem on your own.

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