Written Responses To Verbal Warnings

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about response to a warning:

What is the usual way an employee makes a written response to a verbal warning and what is the employer’s obligation?

Signed, Wondering

Dear Wondering:

I re-wrote your question, which was rather brief. If you want to ask something else, please send that question, only explain it in more detail. A verbal warning can be as simple as “Don’t do that again”, and nothing more is said. Or, it could be the first step in more serious actions, and a note could be made in the employee’s personnel files about it.

However, an employee can write a letter to a supervisor or manager any time to explain his or her actions. So, whether the verbal warning was casual or formal, all the employee has to do is write a letter or send an email to explain his or her viewpoint. The letter might say,”I’m writing this letter, which I would like to have placed in my files, to say that I don’t believe I did anything that was in violation of the rules or policies. I feel the warning I received on such-and-such date was unjustified.Here is my viewpoint about it…(then the employee explains what happened, before he or she concludes with something like this…) If you have questions or if I can explain this further, please let me know. I want to make sure there are no problems about this in the future. I have always tried to be a good employee and I will continue to do so. Sincerely, name of employee. That’s really all there is to a written response about any disciplinary action, but especially about something at the low end of the process, such as a verbal warning.The employer then can put the letter in the file.

Hopefully the supervisor or manager who receives it will communicate further with the employee. However, it may be that there is no reason to discuss it, because the supervisor feels the issue was clear to begin with. Open communications about work problems help both the employee and the supervisor or manager. Maybe the verbal warning was meant to be only a reminder and there is no major concern. Or, maybe the employee isn’t clear about what to do or not do to avoid problems in the future. Finding out about either of those things requires communication. I hope that happens in this case. Best wishes to you!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.