D.C. City Council member Nadline P. Winter (D.Ward 6) was formally accused yesterday by a former staff member of illegally coercing her and other council employes to work in Winter's primary election campaign.

The complaint was filed by Rebecca Francis with the campaign finance office of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics and was disclosed at a board meeting.

Francis has been publicly identified with a group supporting Patricia Rice Press in a write-in campaign to unseat Winter in Tuesday's general election. Winter defeated Press by 120 votes in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary.

Winter could not be reached for comment. She had denied the claims by Francis when they were informally disclosed earlier.(Details in the District Weekly.)

Lindell Tinsley, acting director of campaign finance for the elections board, said he would begin an investigation that could lead to legal charges against Winter or to exoneration.

Francis, who worked for 10 months in 1977-78 under the federal funded CETA jobs programs on the staff of a council committee headed by Winter contended that she and other employes had been told to do numerous things to promote Winter's candidacy. She also said she was "coerced into lying" to a U.S. Department of Labor team that investigated allegedly illegal assignments of CETA employes.

In another matter yesterday, the elections board tentatively scheduled a special election for May 1 to fill possible vancancies in an at-large seat and the Ward 4 seat on the city council and at-large seat on the Board of Education.