What To Do if Written-Up at Work -Employment Law

Help! My boss just wrote me up! What are my rights? What can I do?

Don’t worry, we got you covered. Here is an intensive Guide to all your Write-Ups questions and concerns.

What To Do if Written-Up at Work -Employment Law

Before we start, let us review two types of disciplinary warnings: Verbal Warnings and Written Write-ups. All forms of disciplinary warnings are unpleasant for both the employee and employer.

Verbal Warnings: 

A verbal warning is given by employers, supervisors or upper management to an employee to show that the employee’s behavior in the office is inappropriate or that his or her work performance is poor. This also presents a chance for the employer to discuss the employee’s behavior based on a warning and what can be changed to improve the situation for both the employer and employee. Though this is usually a casual conversation between professionals, a verbal warning is still part of the formal disciplinary process.

Usually, after the meeting, a confirmatory letter would be given to the employee confirming that he or she has received the verbal warning. It also would contain suggested improvements for the employee and the timeframe in which the improvement must be made by.

Just remember: Don’t forget that your manager will be keeping a written record of all of the verbal warnings you may have received including all the details, in the event a formal written warning is necessary for the future.

Written Write-ups:

A write up is well….written warning that will stay on your personnel file for a period of time. An employee write-up form allows managers to clearly describe any workplace violations and incidents and record them. It also gives employees an opportunity to know exactly what the violation was. Common reasons for write-ups are:

  • Late to work.
  • Unauthorized early leaving.
  • Too many missed work days.
  • Company policy violation.
  • Substandard work.
  • Violation of safety rules.
  • Inappropriate behavior towards others.
  • Insubordination.

What To Do if Written-Up at Work -Employment LawCan you refuse to sign the Disciplinary Notice?

Take a deep breath. Your signature only verifies if you received the document.

But keep in mind that some companies may fire an employee for not signing because they view it as a form of insubordination.  Some may even include a warning that failure to sign is a form of employee misconduct and may be terminated.

How to respond to a write up:

First off, please try not to overact and please do not jump and deny allegations until you have heard and read all of the information they are willing to give to you about the warning. Many employees feel shocked, misunderstood and upset after receiving their first write-up and may even believe that the write-up is untrue. But remember that your signature doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with the warning, but that you have only received and read the document.

Fact: You are eligible for unemployment benefits if you were terminated because of numerous write-ups and/or poor performance. But repeated misconduct can disqualify an individual from unemployment benefits.

But what if you disagree with the write-up?

If you believe your write up was inaccurate then instead of not signing, consider writing a rebuttal with important evidence in order to support your side of the story. Or consider signing but adding “under protest”. For example, if your manager accuses you of missing deadlines then gather all your project reports to show other else or if someone else dropped the ball.  Try not to emphasize the blame of a fellow co-worker or supervisor or else you may appear desperate to shift the blame. You could even use this opportunity to show your determination and ask for more training and assistance in the areas that you need to improve.

What To Do if Written-Up at Work -Employment Law

What should be included in your write up rebuttal:

  • Be brief, accurate and specific.
  • Acknowledge any positive comments mentioned in your evaluation
  • Avoid sounding negative or upset
  • Be Profesional
  • Acknowledge the suggestions given in the warning
  • Have no grammar or spelling mistakes
  • Request that the rebuttal be attached to the original write-up

Here are some examples:

No: That is not true! I always arrive on time!

Yes: The warning has stated that I’m often late to work, but this attached time sheet summary for the last six months shows I was late two times because our meetings were running long. I am also attaching copies of the emails I sent to your assistant to let you know I was running behind schedule

Here is a sample of a Rebuttal Write-up:

Employee’s Name
Employee’s Address
City, State, Zip Code


Employer’s Name
Employer’s Address
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Employer’s Name,

First Paragraph
State your name, job position and explain that you are writing an appeal letter.

Body Paragraph 
State your side of the story and provide those facts. State if you attached any documents as proof. Also, mention what you hope the outcome would be.

Final Paragraph
Conclude with a “thank you” for the person’s time. Include necessary contact information so they can follow up with you. If you are going to follow up, state how you will do so, and when.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Signature of Employee
Printed Name of Employee
[Attach any documents to this letter]

What To Do if Written-Up at Work -Employment Law

“None of this sounds fair.” We understand but allow us to explain…

For those worried about possible termination after receiving multiple write-ups, there is one critical law that every for any employee should be aware of At-Will Employment Law. This law will also keep employees understand that companies can fire you at any given time regardless of warnings or not.

The majority of employment in the United States is “at will.”  What that means is that the employee may quit at any time and for any reason, and the employer may fire the employee at any time and for any reason that is not illegal. The law is to prevent using and retaliating against employees illegally and immorally.

California Supreme Court defined At-Will as

“A]n employer may terminate its employees at will, for any or no reason … the employer may act peremptorily, arbitrarily, or inconsistently, without providing specific protections such as prior warning, fair procedures, objective evaluation, or preferential reassignment … The mere existence of an employment relationship affords no expectation, protectible by law, that employment will continue, or will end only on certain conditions, unless the parties have actually adopted such terms.”

The three primary exceptions are:

  1. There is an agreed contract that limits the employer’s ability to terminate the employee
  2. The employee is a member of a labor union that has a collective bargaining agreement with the employer
  3.  Civil service jobs

It may seem unfair if an employee fired you for whatever reason they decided but keep in mind that the only exceptions to this law are those that also protect your rights. Write-up and terminations based on race, sex, age, disability, religion, or national origin, or even engaged in some legally protected activity like filing a discrimination complaint or FMLA leave is illegal, considered wrongful termination and 100% unacceptable.

Here are some examples to put this into perspective:

  1. A woman can not be fired if you found out she is pregnant
  2. You can’t fire an employee because he filed a worker’s compensation claim
  3. You can’t fire employees that have been called for jury duty
  4. You can not retaliate by firing someone for reporting sexual harassment
  5. You can’t fire an older employee based on his plans to retire next year

And our last tip! You can always request a copy of your write up and policy violation for further review.

Working environments can be chaotic and complex. The law offices of Jones Brown wants to make sure you are aware of your rights as an employee or employer. If you feel you have been wrongfully treated at work or on a job, our experienced attorneys know exactly what to do

What To Do if Written-Up at Work -Employment Law

Contact Jones Brown Law

Whether you are entering the job market for the first time or were recently terminated, it is important to understand your rights as a worker. Both federal and state governments have enacted a wide range of employment laws protecting employees from discriminatory treatment, unfair labor practices, unsafe work conditions, and more. This section provides in-depth resources on all phases of the employment process — from the interview and hiring stage to promotion and termination. In addition, you’ll find information about privacy in the workplace, wage and hour laws, workplace safety and family leave policies.

Employment law governs the rights and responsibilities between employers and employees. Most of the laws and statutes that fall under employment law are meant to protect the employee from unfair and unsafe working conditions, but they also help to protect employers.

One large section of employment law deals with the “At Will” Presumption. In nearly every state in the US, it is presumed that both employer and employee are working together voluntarily, and can terminate their working relationship at any time, and for almost any reason.

Working environments can be chaotic and complex. The law offices of Jones Brown wants to make sure you are aware of your rights as an employee or employer. If you feel you have been wrongfully treated at work or on a job, our experienced attorneys know exactly what to do. CLICK HERE to contact the Jones Brown Employment Law division.

Share Page