One of the most challenging issues in the workplace is dealing with bad attitude and employees refusing to perform the work for which they were hired. Disruptive behavior can take on many forms: outright refusal to carry out work, manifest non-performance, inappropriate comments, persistent complaints and non-verbal communication expressions of dissatisfaction (i.e., eye rolling, sighing, etc.). Employers dealing with employees who have a negative and disruptive attitude often consider dismissal for insubordination and insolence. 

So, what’s the best way to define insubordination? Insubordination is generally regarded as an intentional and willful refusal to accept the valid authority or directive of the supervisor. Absent a reasonable belief that compliance with managements order will result in a serious safety or health hazard, an employee must adhere to the principles of “work now, grieve later.” Simply put, absent a serious or health risk (as judged from the perspective of a reasonable person) as employees disagreement or objection to a supervisors directive or order does  not excuse non compliance: rather, he/she must comply with the directive and then seek relief through the contractually-established grievance procedure.

Some things to think about:

1. Was the employee given a direct order?

2. Should the employee have reasonably understood that he/she was receiving a direct order from his/her supervisor?

3. Were the employees alleged interpretations of the order, feasible and reasonable?

4. Was the “order” understandable?

5. Was the employee warned of the consequences of refusing the follow the order?

6. Did the employee willfully disobey order disregard the order?

7. Was there an on-going dispute between the employee and the supervisor?

8. Was the supervisor or order reasonable?

9. Was the order/directive reasonable and necessary to the safe, orderly and efficient operation of the business?

10. Did the order violate a collective bargaining agreement, work rules, past practice, controlling precedent or the law?

11. Can the employee reasonably argue that compliance with the order would have endangered him/herself or others?

12.Is there any evidence that reasonably suggests the employee was being “set up” by the manager/supervisor?

By: Hanna Yurkovetskaya