For our intentional community I am writing up specific processes that can be used when one or more people have problems with another individual's behavior. I'm having trouble coming up with comfortable words to label both the person with concerns and the person the concerns are directed at. It's hard in this kind of community setting because such a word as "complainant" could be taken offense to ... like "it's just saying I'm a complainer." I'm writing up a detailed policy, for which it would be helpful to have single words instead of a phrase each time the person is referred to. This is probably impossible to find the right words, but thought I'd throw it out here anyway.


The ____________ ["person with the concern"] can request a third party mediation with the ____________ ["person whom they have issues with"].

  • You could always push the envelope with investigatee, but per this discussion, I'd just use subject. He, on the other hand, might prefer to be called a defendant. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 14:00
  • The reporter can request a third party mediation with the subject?
    – JonLarby
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 14:13
  • The "requester" (or victim?) can ask for a third party mediation between him and the "troublemaker".
    – Graffito
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 14:43
  • @JonLarbyI was wondering about Reporter, but think it could be liable to misinterpretation, I wondered about 'Reporting member', though it fails the single-word barrier.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 14:47
  • I think "complainant" and "defendant"/"subject" will do just fine Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 15:10

7 Answers 7


"Plaintiff" (in the context of a legal or judicial matter), as the person concerned. "Respondent" as the person whose behaviour is in question.

Plaintiff noun LAW a person who brings a case against another in a court of law. "the plaintiff commenced an action for damages"

Respondent noun 1. LAW a party against whom a petition is filed, especially one in an appeal or a divorce case. 2. a person who replies to something, especially one supplying information for a questionnaire or responding to an advertisement. "out of the many thousands of respondents to our questionnaire, under a fifth were full-time housewives"

  • +1 because they are basically the terms developed historically for the situation the OP raises: arbitrating a dispute without implied prejudice in favour of either party. (Although they may be too formal for use in the OP's particular community?) Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 23:29

The nature of your question implies an adversarial relationship between the two parties. I would write the two parties generically but equivalently as below:

Grievance Policies

A) All grievances should begin with a Show of Concern. A Show of Concern will not influence employment status in and of itself. The purpose of a Show of Concern is to maximize the efficiency of all employees.

B) A Show of Concern can be initiated by any employee and cam be in regard to any employee. It should read Employee A is concerned with Employee B because... This should then be given to the department manager discreetly. If multiple employees are involved, then the statement should read Employees A, B, and C are concerned about Employees D and E because...


I suggest the Concerned and the Subject.

Because the complaints received and the subjects of those complaints will often not rise to legal actions, civil or criminal, with a plaintiff and a defendant, you may want to use terms such as "concerned employee(s)" and the "subject(s) of the concern, and for short, the Concerned (as a noun) and the Subject (as a noun). The management would probably prefer that complaints be settled within a company resolution process, perhaps without outside mediation. No doubt part of the process will be to allow anonymous reports of concern, whether or not these later rise to complaints calling for discipline or even reporting to legal authorities. The Subject (possibly anonymously) may request third-party mediation with the Concerned, who may wish to remain anonymous. The subject of a complaint is not yet a defendant; most of the complaints are likely to involve less serious matters like a boss who asks employees to get coffee for them, do personal shopping, stay late without getting overtime, yells at them, fails to accommodate needs like sick children, drinks at work, overlooks employees who should be promoted, and the like; or even a group that is asked to take on tasks it considers properly done by another group. A concerned employee may be reporting behavior of concern to others or the organization as a whole rather than themselves. Unjustified complaints may occur. Thus it may be desirable that the basic terminology be as neutral as possible in making judgments about the merits of the parties to the dispute.

If more serious complaints arise, especially ones where disciplinary or legal action is required, procedures will become more complex; but the suggestions here be a start.


The best I can think of are aggrieved and target. Though aggrieved is an adjective, "the aggrieved" serves as a noun here.

The aggrieved can request a third party mediation with the target(s).


aggrieved ADJECTIVE

Feeling resentment at having been unfairly treated.

‘I suppose there are the blogs that are very rude and offensive with no redress for the aggrieved party.’

target NOUN

1.3 A person or thing against whom criticism or abuse is or may be directed.

‘In any society, critical analysis is important and every person is a fair target for constructive criticism.’


I'd like to keep it as playful and light as possible in order to reinforce and emphasize a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect.

What about "the cat" and "the headlight"?

  • An advantage would be that these terms do not presuppose blame on either side. Can you blame the cat for being there? Can you blame the driver of the car for seeing the cat in the glare of the headlight?
    – Kevin Mark
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 17:11
  • 1
    Unfortunately, on a semi-official document setting forth community guidelines and procedures, "The cat can request a third-party mediation with the headlight" sounds not so much playful and light as nonsensical and incoherent.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 17:26
  • In my experience humor and seriousness are very compatible, and official documentation often sounds pompous. My suggestion would doubtless raise questions that require explanation, but that might also be thought-provoking and render the material more memorable and accessible.
    – Kevin Mark
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 17:47

In intimate societies it's important to prevent undue damage to reputations occasioned by false accusations, so I tried to think of terms that would be minimally ostracizing and stigmatizing for both parties, regardless of outcome.

THE REPORTER (as suggested in comments by @JonLarby and @Spagirl) The person with a concern is not distinguished for having a problem with someone else; that happens all the time. It was the report to authorities that led to a distinction requiring a name. I too propose "the reporter."

THE REPORTED The sticking point for "the reporter" was the lack of a term for the person reported. I propose "the reported." "The reported" identifies that person in relation to the fact of a report, not by something he or she did or even might have done. That's important, because it might turn out that the reported had done nothing wrong.

Alternative: Qui tam whistleblower claims are made by a "relator," which can be considered if "the reporter" is deemed too evocative of a journalist. However, "the related," for the other party, leaves something to be desired. There's "the relatee." It seems be a neologism, which might rule it out, but because it's a neologism, it lacks connotations, which adds some appeal.


You could use some legal language here, for example plaintiff/claimant, and defendant.

(UK civil law, at least, prefers the use of the word 'claimant')

"The claimant can request mediation with the defendant".

'Defendant' might give unnecessary negative connotations, though, depending on the situation in which you're using the above sentence. Other legal terms you could use are 'appellant' and 'respondent'.

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