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Receiving a written reprimand at work can make you feel chastised, misunderstood and unappreciated, especially if you feel the write-up was unwarranted. Study your employee handbook to know your rights when it comes to dealing with written reprimands. Many companies allow employees to submit a rebuttal letter to explain their side of the story. If you decide to write a rebuttal letter after a write up at work, your letter should be clear, logical and composed. Keep in mind that the rebuttal will be stored in your personnel file as a permanent representation of your character.
Gather Your Thoughts
Clear your head. Remember that a rebuttal letter provides a platform for you to present the facts of the issue as you see them rather than to vent your feelings. Cool down before writing so you're sure to represent yourself in a calm, professional and articulate manner.
Starting the Letter
Date the letter so that anyone who reviews your file has a specific time frame to reference the events mentioned. Address the letter respectfully, using the first name, last name and professional title of your supervisor or human resources official. If you aren’t sure who to address your letter, simply write: To Whom This May Concern.
Making Your Points
Begin by summing up the issue at hand, including the reason for the write up. For example, “On December 5th, 2017, supervisor Jim Howard presented me with a write up titled ‘First Warning.’ The write up was a reprimand for missing the deadline for submitting a report detailing company acquisitions for the month of November.“
Explain your side of the story by stating the facts as you see them, but refrain from being defensive, accusatory or venting personal feelings. Don’t write statements like, “I couldn’t finish my reports on time because the supervisor kept us in meetings all day and when we got out, the systems were down and I couldn’t log in. I told Mr. Howard but he ignored me like always.” Instead, use the rebuttal to explain your actions and showcase your work ethic. For example, “On the date in question, I attended a mandatory staff meeting for the majority of the day. Immediately after the meeting I tried several times to log in to my computer and submit the report, but the systems were down. I explained the dilemma to Mr. Howard and went home for the day. I came in early the following morning and submitted the report by 9 a.m. Beyond this exception, I’ve never missed a deadline.”
Close the Letter
Close the letter professionally, and sign your name. Suggestions include, “Respectfully,” “Sincerely,” or “Regards.”
Keep a copy of your rebuttal letter for your personal records, as well as subsequent correspondence regarding the matter in question.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.