How To Write an Appeal Letter in 8 Steps (With an Example)
Updated July 21, 2023
An appeal letter allows you to question a decision your employer made while also presenting your case for a more favorable outcome. A well-written appeal letter has the potential to change a decision made that wasn't in your favor. If you want to challenge a decision in your workplace, it might be helpful to learn more about writing an appeal letter.
In this article, we explain what an appeal letter is, list its common elements, describe how to write an appeal letter in eight steps and provide a template and example to help you write your own.
What is an appeal letter?
An appeal letter is a written response to a decision that expresses your desire for a different outcome. In addition to stating why you're questioning the decision, an appeal letter is an opportunity to share why you believe it was incorrect and suggest a remedy you feel would be fairer.
There are many situations in a workplace where you may need an appeal letter. The most common reasons for writing an appeal letter include:
You received a formal warning from a supervisor.
Your employer denied your request for a raise.
Your employer chose someone else for a promotion opportunity.
You received a demotion.
Your employer changed your work hours.
Your job altered your work responsibilities and duties.
Your employer let you go as part of layoffs.
Your employer fired you.
What to include in an appeal letter
When writing an appeal letter, there are important elements you should consider. Before sending a letter, check to ensure that it includes:
Your professional contact information
A summary of the situation you're appealing
An explanation of why you feel the decision was incorrect
A request for the preferred solution you'd like to see enacted
Gratitude for considering your appeal
Supporting documents attached, if relevant
How to write an appeal letter
If you believe your employer made an incorrect decision and are writing an appeal letter to express your preferred result, here's how to do so effectively:
1. Consult with your company's policy guide
If your company has a formal policy on appeal letters, you must follow the policy in its entirety. Submitting an appeal letter that doesn't follow the procedure outlined in the company guidelines may result in your employer turning down your appeal or not reading it at all. If you aren't sure about your company's policies, consider asking a coworker or supervisor.
2. Address the recipient directly
When sending an appeal letter, it's important to address the letter to the person with decision-making power on the issue you're appealing. Using a generic address, such as "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To whom it may concern," makes it more likely that your letter won't reach your preferred recipient and may instead filter out or reach someone without the power to overturn the previous ruling. Directly addressing a supervisor makes it clear who your appeal is for, giving you the best chance of success.
3. Write a formal letter
An appeal letter is a professional communication, so write the letter using an appropriately professional tone. Even if you have a friendly and informal relationship with the letter's recipient during normal business operations, it's usually best to use a formal writing style. Company policy may require the recipient to keep a copy of the letter on file, and your intended recipient may not be the only person who reads it.
Read more: How To Write a Formal Letter
4. Stick to the facts when stating your case
When writing about why you feel the decision made was incorrect, try not to rely on any personal feelings or emotions. Instead, focus only on provable facts and measurable data. For example, if you feel that your employer bypassed you for a promotion unfairly, an appeal letter may not be the right place to say that it hurt you, but it might be appropriate to note how your sales performance was the best on the team and shows dedication to your job.
By highlighting the most relevant and impressive claims that justify your request, you present the reader with all the most important reasons why they should reconsider the prior ruling.
5. Express your gratitude
Making somebody feel appreciated can help you receive a better judgment because they view you more positively. One simple way to foster goodwill with the individual you're writing to is to directly state your gratitude for taking the time to reconsider the decision you're appealing. Creating a positive impression with the recipient of the letter may be the difference between a favorable outcome and your employer turning down your appeal if they're narrowly deciding between options.
6. Keep it short
When sending an appeal letter, your priority is ensuring that the recipient takes the time to read it. If they're busy, a long letter is more likely to be set aside or only briefly skimmed, which reduces the chances of getting a positive decision on your appeal. Try to keep the length of your letter three paragraphs or less, with one each devoted to explaining the situation, offering your appeal and suggesting a preferable outcome.
7. Note any relevant attachments
When appealing a decision, you may opt to include supplementary documentation to further show the reason for your appeal. This may include performance data, character references or other sources that you feel add validity to your appeal.
When including attachments with your letter, include a note after your signature acknowledging that you have provided additional documents. If your files didn't attach to an email or if physical documents that you sent separated before your employer reads the letter, including this note lets the recipient know that there should be further information available to them.
8. Send a follow-up message
If you send an appeal letter and don't hear about a decision, it's acceptable to send a follow-up message. When filing an appeal according to regulations defined in your company or union's handbook, make sure that you wait until the designated review period has passed before sending a follow-up.
If there are no formal guidelines for your appeal, and you did not receive any indication from the recipient of how long it would take for a ruling, it's customary to wait one week before following up. If you presented a complicated case, you can allow more time.
Read more: How To Write a Follow-Up Email
Appeal letter template
When writing a letter to file an appeal, it's customary to include contact information at the top of the letter. If you're sending your appeal as an email, you can omit the information above the greeting. Use this template to help guide your letter:
[Your position, if relevant]
[Your phone number]
Dear [Recipient's name], [Recipient's title, if sending an email without the above information],
I'm writing to appeal [decision] on [date of action]. I received information that [reason for action].
I'm appealing this decision because I feel that [reason for appealing]. [Two or three sentences providing supporting evidence for your appeal].
I'm asking that you reconsider this decision. I believe that [preferred outcome] is a more fair decision, for the reasons noted above. Thank you for reviewing my appeal.
[Note acknowledging any attached materials]
To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.
Appeal letter example
Here's an example of an appeal letter:
Sales Associate, Thurgood Electronics
January 14, 2023
Northeast Regional Sales Director, Thurgood Electronics
Dear Terry Westaway,
I'm writing to you regarding the recent decision on my annual raise, delivered on Friday, January 8. I received information that after examining performance in the prior year I would receive a 3% increase on my salary, however, I feel that I merit consideration for a larger increase.
I'm appealing this decision because I feel that my sales record demonstrates that I'm one of the most valuable members of the sales team. I've routinely been one of the top 10 sales professionals in the region, including leading my branch in sales for three of the last five months. I believe that my long track record as a top performer, combined with even stronger results since the summer, shows my high value to the company.
I ask that you reconsider this decision. I believe that an increase of 5% is more in line with both cost-of-living increases and my strong performance as one of the company's most prolific sales team members.
Attached: Sales records for the last 12 months
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