Understanding What Constitutes Insubordination
Refusing to obey your employer's reasonable orders can lead to termination
Insubordination in the workplace refers to an employee's intentional refusal to obey an employer's lawful and reasonable orders. Such a refusal would undermine a supervisor's level of respect and ability to manage and, therefore, is often a reason for disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
There are three factors in determining insubordination:
- The employer gives the order.
- The employee acknowledges the order.
- The employee refuses to carry out the order.
The order itself may take the form of a verbal directive, written instructions, the duties as described in a job description and even an implied set of duties where no formal job description exists. Employee acknowledgments can be verbal, nonverbal (nodding) or even the acceptance of a job offer. An employee's unwillingness to carry out a directive can manifest itself as a verbal refusal, a nonverbal refusal or an unreasonable delay in completing the work. Being verbally disrespectful is not a requirement here, as simply refusing to punch a time clock when directed to do so will constitute insubordination.
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