I was given a written warning today that I believe is unwarranted. The statement is at best an inaccurate representation of what happened and I consider it completely wrong. Since this is a written warning I fear it could follow my career with the company I hope to retire from.

Is there any action I can and should attempt to make to address this and minimize the damage it could do to my career?

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    What kind of warning letter? Do you have an employment contract dictating the policy? What is your grounds for appealing?
    – enderland
    Jul 15, 2014 at 20:20
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    It would also be useful to list which country this is as there may be different laws.
    – JB King
    Jul 15, 2014 at 20:27

2 Answers 2


If you're in the US, many companies can do pretty much whatever they want when dealing with warnings: email a warning, provide something written, just say something. In many cases, companies can just let you go with no warning, for that matter.

If you have a union, you would contact your representative to ask about appealing. If you have an employment contract, it could deal with that. If you're like many US employees in right-to-work states, then the following paragraph and related question could be useful:

Unless the warning is completely wrong, and you're willing to lose your job in fighting that, part of appealing your case is immediately taking it very seriously, and letting them know you are working on changing the behavior mentioned. (See Does receiving a Performance Improvement Plan suggest my job is on the line?)

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    – jmort253
    Aug 27, 2014 at 2:01

If the warning really was unnecessary, it's aggravating but, in the long run, harmless.

Saying "I didn't do it, and I certainly agree that I don't plan on doing it in the future" is usually the best you can do.

Some managers will be willing to include a statement from you to that effect in your file. If you go that route, keep it very calm and factual -- no accusations, no emotion, just "I don't believe this is a correct description of what happened or didn't happen." However, it is EXTREMELY difficult to write a self-defense note that doesn't come across as ... uhm... defensive, so it might be better to let it lie.

(I got in trouble in my first few years with the company over a quote that someone misunderstood. Talked it over with my manager, he talked it over with his manager, they agreed that the whole incident was "mostly harmless" and that if there was a lesson to be learned I had learned it, and we went on from there. I don't know what's in my file about it, but I don't see a need to worry about it either.)

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