My workplace has been dealing with an extremely rude coworker and I'm looking for the best way to describe or document that behavior so I can escalate the problem to management or HR. This colleague has gone way beyond just being difficult to work with and his day-to-day behaviour includes things like:

  • yelling
  • constant cursing
  • vicious remarks against homosexuals, minorities, or owners of pets, credit cards or import cars
  • blaming others or the documentation for his own mistakes
  • covering up mistakes by erasing logs, which only stopped after a written warning (telling him to stop had no effect)

My colleagues share my concerns but I think nothing has been done about him because no one ever tried to document his behaviour or alert management about the extent of the problem. Our (Canadian) company is fairly small and doesn't have any policies for escalating things like this.

How can I best document these problems and notify management that this is a real problem that we've been unable resolve internally?

Note 1: Please note that my main concern about my colleague are mostly temper, anger, hate speeches, blaming others and back talking! Hope it clarifies the differences with What can I do to make a coworkers lack of effort more visible?.

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    Hence, my comment. after your edit, I would suggest talk directly to HR and leave that they handle this situation, otherwise, talk to your boss ASAP. Talk with your coworkers too and try to make a groupal claim. I hope that more experienced users can bring you more useful answers. if you're worried about consequences you don't, is not your problem. Jul 22, 2016 at 20:29
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    If he had a diagnosed mental condition the employer might be required to make certain accommodations for him. If he's just an a-hole that would not be the case. Jul 22, 2016 at 20:59
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    @fetah - Well, it's good to know that "'Mericuh" doesn't have a monopoly on a-holes. We're just really obsessed with putting them on television for some reason I can't figure out. Jul 22, 2016 at 21:14
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    Vote to keep closed. You're on 4 reopen votes but while the question has merit, your post still has too many problems for me. I'd suggest clearing up the excessive punctuation and dropping all personal opinions and random thoughts you've injected into the text. The bigger issue is that "mentally unstable" is way too loaded a term to throw around lightly when what you're actually after is ways to describe disruptive behaviour.
    – Lilienthal
    Jul 26, 2016 at 8:08
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    @fetah Why the fascination with labels? Just describe the behaviour, there's no need to describe the person.
    – Lilienthal
    Jul 26, 2016 at 13:44

5 Answers 5


I've worked in Canada a long time, and your employer should be doing something about this. Here are my recommended steps. This is assuming you have already informally approached your boss and nothing has been done.

I'm only talking about his behaviour, The issue of his technical competence should be taken up with his manager, and separately.

  1. Start documenting incidents. Write down what happened, what was said, dates and places and who was there. If you can remember past incidents write them down too.
  2. Try to get your colleagues on board. I'm assuming they feel the same as you do, so they should be on board with you taking actions. If you can get them to agree to a joint approach it will carry much more weight than if one person complains.
  3. When you have enough documented incidents, make a complaint to HR. Give them copies of what you have written down. Give them names of your colleagues who are prepared to corroborate this.
  4. Keep documenting once you have done this, and repeat the complaint if there is no change over time. However don't expect the behaviour to stop immediately or completely.
  5. If this person abuses or threatens you or anyone because he thinks you have complained about him, report that to HR too. Retaliation like that will get him in more trouble and will not be tolerated.

When you are talking to HR, there are some key phrases that will make them sit up and take notice, and force them to take action if his behaviour really falls in those categories. Read up about them, and use them if his behaviour fits the description.

  1. Hostile work environment if you can show that he is making people uncomfortable to work there
  2. Unsafe work environment if anything he has said could be taken as a threat
  3. Workplace bullying if he has ever tried to intimidate someone into doing or not doing something.

All of those go double if he has made remarks about minorities, especially minorities who are present.

Don't mention the stealing of office equipment unless you have good evidence that it is happening. Making one false allegation damages your credibility, even if everything else you say is true.


Whether they are "mentally unstable" is (a) not something you can decide unless you are a mental health practitioner and (b) absolutely irrelevant. Don't diagnose, just work with management and HR to address the specific behaviors that are problems.

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    I was trying to find a suitable synonym for A-Hole.
    – AleX_
    Jul 23, 2016 at 4:23
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    There are no laws anywhere protecting assholes. There may very well be laws protecting someone who is mentally unstable. If he curses constantly and starts shouting when something goes wrong, then if that person is mentally unstable you may have to just accept it.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 25, 2016 at 10:10

If he is making you uncomfortable in the workplace you need to go to HR and let them know. At least in the US making hostile remarks about a protected group (homosexuals, minorities, etc) that is grounds for dismissal. He very well may be a worker who accomplishes a lot and have a condition, but that doesn't forgive his behavior.

It sounds like verbal warnings don't work with him. Escalating to HR should result in a written warning which as you describe he has responded to previously. You can't be concerned with how he feels about being written up when he is making everyone that uncomfortable. Good luck.

  • believe me, he does not accomplish anything technically!
    – AleX_
    Jul 22, 2016 at 20:41

I have only lived in Canada for a year, which seems like a lifetime away now. In my workplace at that time, I have never seen anybody acting like this. But considering Canada being more liberal than US, I would assume them to protect these groups that he is cursing at. And if your company is small and nobody wants to get in trouble, hence turning a blind eye to this piece of work guy, that might explain how he could hold his position.

Unless someone starts a process to write him up for his nasty remarks, if not for his incompetency, causing probably tons of money to your place of employment, still, nothing will happen. If you really are fed up with him, file a formal complaint with HR. Maybe, just maybe, they take him away from the environment which he spews his toxicity and put him in an office where you don't have to be subject to his world views as much. And if the number of complaints reach a critical mass, may be it can be grounds for dismissal.

  • I will talk with a few people here on Monday to see if they are willing to act more seriously about him or not. Personally I don't talk to him and avoid him if his question is not about work.
    – AleX_
    Jul 22, 2016 at 21:31
  • @TechnikEmpire, thanks for your warning, I will be cautious,
    – AleX_
    Jul 25, 2016 at 14:00

You have observed a fundamental problem at your workplace. Your coworker should not even have the ability to be able to modify logs in the first place. This practice violates the security principle of segregation of duties. The work structure should be robust enough to make this possibility highly improbable, save for deliberate collusion. This is a tangible problem you have and can proactively address with management. If they are rational people, and have the slightest understanding of risk management , they will (or SHOULD) care.

  • Eeeh... even to the extent that that's true, it's not really addressing the question. When an employee does something bad that should have been impossible, there are TWO problems, and the thing they did being possible is only one of them. This question clearly wants to focus on the other. Sep 1, 2016 at 15:45

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