how to write a sexual harassment complaint letter

How to Write a Compelling Sexual Harassment Complaint Letter

Have you experienced sexual harassment in the workplace? Dealing with inappropriate behavior can be incredibly difficult and demoralizing. You may feel confused, angry, or even ashamed. But know this – you are not alone, and you have rights. Filing an official complaint is often the first step in addressing sexual harassment and holding perpetrators accountable. This guide will walk you through the process of drafting a powerful sexual harassment complaint letter. We’ll cover what to include, how to structure it, and tips for a compelling delivery. Let’s get started.

Understanding Sexual Harassment

Before we dive into the letter itself, it’s crucial to understand what constitutes sexual harassment. Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. It can occur in many forms, including:

  • Inappropriate touching or physical contact
  • Suggestive comments, jokes, or gestures
  • Displaying sexually explicit material
  • Sending unwanted sexual emails, texts, or messages
  • Making employment decisions based on sexual advances

Sexual harassment creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. It interferes with an employee’s ability to perform their job. Importantly, the behavior does not need to be intentional – it’s the impact on the victim that matters.

Gather Documentation

Before drafting your letter, gather as much documentation as possible. This will strengthen your case and provide evidence to support your claims. Relevant documentation may include:

  • Emails, texts, or messages containing harassment
  • Notes detailing incidents (date, time, witnesses, etc.)
  • Photographs or recordings (check your state’s laws first)
  • Any reports or complaints previously filed
  • Names and contact information of potential witnesses
  • Your employment records (hire date, performance reviews, etc.)

Having this information on hand will make writing your letter easier and more effective.

Structure of the Letter

A well-structured letter is key to getting your point across clearly. Use the following format:


At the top, include:

  • Your name and job title
  • The date
  • The name and title of the recipient (e.g. HR Director)
  • The company name and address

Opening Paragraph

Clearly state your purpose for writing. For example:”I am writing to file a formal complaint regarding the ongoing sexual harassment I have experienced from [Name of Harasser], [Their Job Title].”

Describe the Harassment

Provide detailed accounts of each incident of harassment. Include:

  • Dates, times, and locations of occurrences
  • Verbatim quotes or descriptions of inappropriate comments/behavior
  • Names of any witnesses present

Present the facts objectively and chronologically. Avoid emotional language or accusations.

Impact on You

Explain how the harassment has affected your work performance and well-being. For instance:

  • Feeling uncomfortable or unsafe at work
  • Inability to focus on tasks due to the hostile environment
  • Physical or emotional distress (provide examples if applicable)

Violation of Company Policy

Reference the specific company policies or codes of conduct that were violated. Most workplaces prohibit sexual harassment and have procedures for reporting it. Citing these policies strengthens your case.

Requested Resolution

Clearly state what actions you want the company to take, such as:

  • Investigating the harassment promptly and impartially
  • Taking disciplinary action against the harasser
  • Providing protection from retaliation
  • Compensating you for harm suffered (e.g. lost wages)

Closing Paragraph

Reaffirm your commitment to your job and the company. Thank them for their attention to this serious matter. Provide your contact information for any follow-up.


Sign the letter, both physically and by typing your full name below.

Tips for an Effective Letter

Beyond the structure and content, there are several techniques to make your letter more compelling:

  • Use a professional, formal tone throughout
  • Be concise and stick to the facts
  • Avoid accusatory or inflammatory language
  • Proofread carefully for spelling and grammar errors
  • Make copies before submitting the original
  • Send via certified mail to create a paper trail
  • Follow your company’s official complaint procedures

If your employer fails to address the harassment properly, or if you face retaliation, you may need to take legal action. An experienced employment attorney can advise you on your rights and options, such as filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).Dealing with sexual harassment is never easy. But by drafting a clear, well-supported complaint letter, you’re taking an important first step. Remember, you have the right to a safe, respectful workplace free from harassment or discrimination. Don’t suffer in silence – your voice deserves to be heard.

Sample Sexual Harassment Complaint Letter

Here is a sample letter following the format and tips outlined above:[Your Name]
[Your Job Title]
[Current Date][Name of Recipient]
[Recipient’s Job Title]
[Company Name]
[Company Address]Re: Formal Complaint of Sexual HarassmentDear [Name],I am writing to file a formal complaint against [Name of Harasser], [Their Job Title], for sexual harassment in direct violation of [Company Name]’s anti-harassment policy.Over the past [time period], [Name of Harasser] has engaged in a pattern of unwelcome verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature toward me. Specific incidents include:

  • On [date], during a team meeting, [he/she] made suggestive comments about my appearance, saying “[quote].” This made me deeply uncomfortable, as did [his/her] subsequent attempts to touch my arm and shoulder throughout the meeting. [Names of witnesses] were present.
  • In an email on [date], a copy of which is attached, [he/she] asked me on a date despite my previous rejection of such advances. [He/She] stated “[quote],” which I found to be inappropriate and unprofessional.
  • Most recently, on [date] in the office break room, [he/she] stood uncomfortably close and remarked “[quote]” in a suggestive manner. I immediately excused myself from the situation.

This pattern of demeaning and sexualized comments and unwanted physical contact has created a hostile work environment for me. I now feel on edge and distracted at work, worried that [Name] will continue to harass me. As a result, my productivity and self-confidence have suffered.[Company policy number] clearly prohibits sexual harassment and outlines procedures for reporting it. I am following protocol by submitting this formal written complaint. I trust that you will promptly investigate these allegations and take appropriate disciplinary action against [Name of Harasser].Furthermore, I request that the company provide me with protection from any potential retaliation as a result of this complaint. I have been an exemplary employee at [Company] for [time period] and wish to continue making positive contributions in a safe, professional environment.Thank you for your attention to this very serious matter. I can be reached at [your phone number] or [your email] should any additional information be required. I look forward to your prompt resolution.Sincerely,[Your Signature][Your Printed Name]By following the guidance in this article, you can draft a clear, well-supported sexual harassment complaint letter. Remember, you have the right to a workplace free from harassment and hostility. Don’t hesitate to speak up and assert your rights – your voice matters.

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