You want your workplace to be safe and free from unsafe or harassing behaviors. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. When your supervisor is the one doing the harassing, it gets even stickier, since that person can make life difficult if you don't follow his rules or code of conduct. In a perfect world, writing a letter of complaint to someone higher up the chain will solve the problem. In reality, employers sometimes side with the supervisor. As such, it may be worth writing a new round of cover letters and resumes at the same time.
Read your employee handbook to find out if your company has a policy regarding harassment claims. If your company has a set of steps to follow, follow them to the letter. In any case, the company may identify a person to which claims of this nature need to be addressed.
Write down all the instances of harassment you have experienced. As time goes on you may forget the details and dates of the behavior. Documentation also is important for the validity of your claim. Be specific in your documentation. Save the file on your home computer. If there are repercussions from your complaint letter -- if you're fired, for example -- you want the file to be accessible.
Address the letter to the person identified in the employee handbook, to your supervisor's supervisor or your human resources department. Include the person's title and the company address at the top left of the letter as well as the date.
State your job title in the first line of the letter, and then state the name of your supervisor.
State that this is a formal complaint letter in the second line, and state that you are asking the addressee to take action to remedy the problem.
Start a new paragraph and detail a few of the most egregious instances of harassment, including the date, people involved and the nature of the harassment. You can opt to use bullet points here, or you can detail each instance in a new paragraph. Use formal language and avoid emotional or accusatory language. Stating the facts without accusations or emotions will lend credibility to the letter. Explain how the behavior made you feel and what remedy you seek.
Start a new paragraph and ask the addressee for a meeting to discuss the issue.
Thank the person for their time, skip a few lines and then type your name. Under that, include your phone number or email address.
- If your company's representatives do not respond to the letter or make an attempt to fix the problem, the next step may be to talk to an attorney to help you file a harassment claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If your supervisor is the head of the company and there is no one to whom you can address a letter of complaint, your only recourse may be to talk to a lawyer about filing a harassment claim.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.