Show Cause Letter for Misconduct

A show cause letter or notice is issued by the employer to an employee who has engaged in unprofessional conduct at the workplace. This letter is one of the critical steps in disciplinary actions taken against employees. A show cause letter gives an employee a chance to explain their behavior and provides a strong reason why the employer should not take disciplinary action against the employee or terminate the employee.

Show-cause letters may be written for different situations, including misconduct, insubordination, illegal activities, negligence, irresponsible behavior, physical abuse or harassment, and many more.

A show cause letter for misconduct is written to an employee when the employee is observed to have repeatedly exhibited poor behavior towards the supervisor, colleagues, or subordinates.

Misconduct generally includes inappropriate behavior, aggressive or racial behavior, behaving rudely, shouting or abusing another employee of the organization, and any other behavior that negatively affects the organizational culture and employee relations.

Usually, a show cause letter is issued after several similar instances are reported to the human resources department or the employee’s supervisor. The first step to tackle misconduct is usually verbal reprimands by the supervisor.

If these verbal reprimands do not have any effect on an employee’s attitude, then a written complaint is made against the employee. This complaint has been forwarded to the HR department. The HR department usually issues multiple written warnings to the employee in cases of repeated acts of misconduct.

When the employee shows no remorse or continues misconduct with other members of the organization, he or she may be suspended or disciplinary action may be taken against them. Before disciplinary action, such as termination, is taken against the employee, a show cause letter is sent to the employee.

The employee is given a fair chance to explain their behavior and the reasons for misbehaving. If the reasons are significant, the organization may take a different path. However, if the employee fails to provide unsatisfactory answers, the employer may take any decision it believes to be appropriate. The employee is informed that his or her explanation was not found satisfactory.

Sample letters


I am writing this letter to draw your attention to a serious case of misconduct that you caused on __/__/__. It has been the topic of discussion among the board of directors as well.

I am well aware of your work and have also known you personally. Your projects are highly appreciated by your clients, and you were being considered for promotion, but you did not take the positive criticism from a senior and lashed out of proportion. This behavior is not acceptable in any capacity, but the administration has decided to give you a chance. You are being served with this show cause notice to provide a detailed explanation of your actions, either with proof or witness, and justify such behavior before the board of directors in a time period of seven days.

If you fail to comply with this notice, strict action will be taken against you. You will either be served with a warning letter or immediate termination; therefore, choose your stance wisely and stop being naïve.

I hope that you will consider this notice seriously and act upon it. It will be a dark spot on your otherwise brilliant career; therefore, apologize for your wrongdoings and make amends for your misdemeanor.

If you are served with termination, seeking opportunities at other organizations would be very difficult, and your career could come to a permanent halt. Good luck with your future.


I am writing this letter to formally inform you about serving the show cause notice for out-of-proportion behavior. It has been brought to my attention that you misbehaved with our valuable clients to the point that they have taken a step back from doing business with us.

At XYZ organization, policies against misconduct with employees, clients, or any other staff are unacceptable. We are forced to issue a show cause notice against you, which states that you are responsible for providing your side of the explanation with proof and justification.

On this issue, I have received numerous complaints that, because of the client’s disapproval of your project, you misbehaved and held him by the collar. I was astonished to hear this because I have always known you as a dedicated and hardworking employee.

You have been criticized for your projects, but you have always strived to improve and learn from your mistakes. I do not know what triggered your fierce reaction in front of the client, but it cannot be tolerated at any cost. You will have to stand before the directors and present your side of the story.

I hope you will take this matter seriously and apologize to our respectable clients. If clients understand your situation and let this incident go, then it can greatly impact your overall scenario. Your situation has the added disadvantage of losing the business of a very important client, which cannot be overlooked by the board of directors. I am waiting to hear your response in this scenario.


I am serving this show cause notice to you officially to inform you about your hearing in front of the CEO of XYZ organization in response to your out-of-line behavior with colleagues and your manager.

You joined this organization as an intern, and you achieved the rank of assistant because of your enthusiasm and high spirit. You are well aware of all the policies and rules that we do not compromise on. During your employment, three employees were terminated because of their misconduct with other colleagues. I did not expect such behavior from you; therefore, it is important that you present yourself in front of the CEO and provide your justification.

If you are suffering in any manner possible, you know that you could count on your manager to take your side and relieve any work stress, but you chose the wrong way. It cannot be tolerated at any cost; therefore, make your case and justify yourself before the CEO. If you are unable to do so, then you will be served with a warning letter and will be forced to take a workshop on professional conduct and behavior organized by XYZ management.

I hope you will straighten your behavior and take the right steps to nullify all the complaints against you.


Subject: Show cause notice for Misconduct

This is concerning several complaints about your alleged misconduct with other employees in the organization. We have received more than one report about situations in which your behavior was rude and derogatory. Our organization values respect and expects all employees to actively maintain a healthy organizational environment.

Here is a narration of the events that are construed as misconduct:

On [date], you called another colleague’moron’ and ‘incompetent’ given an audience. Such comments are not appreciated at our workplace.

Last month, during the weekly discussion, you shouted at another employee and asked him to ‘shut the hell up’.

On [date], you rudely lashed out at a female colleague when it was, in fact, your negligence that caused the photocopier to crash.

Some other minor incidents have also been narrated by your colleagues and subordinates about your rude and aggressive behavior. You were verbally reprimanded, but no improvement has been observed in your conduct.

You are hereby requested to submit a written explanation of your conduct and why disciplinary action should not be taken against you.

Your explanation should reach the senior manager of human resources by this Friday.


Marianne Sanders
Senior Manager Human Resources

Show Cause Letter for Misconduct