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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:36 pm
Insubordination occurs when an employee deliberately refuses to obey or carry out a reasonable order from a superior. This type of misconduct in the workplace can obviously damage an employer and employee relationship. Generally, companies don't need a policy to discipline or fire an employee on the spot for such behavior, but most will enforce a general written policy on insubordination to protect their actions in court. A typical insubordination policy will clearly state that any refusal to fulfill a specific job requirement can lead to discipline up to and including termination. Companies may also list the varying degrees or different types of insubordination they consider unacceptable and subject to disciplinary action. For instance, some companies include the use of abusive language towards supervisors as insubordination in their policy. Others may consider any refusal to obey an order, whether verbal or silent, as insubordination. Keep in mind, however, that employees who merely protest a duty shouldn't be reprimanded for insubordination. It's not insubordination if the employee completes the job, even if it's done with constant complaining or delays. Supervisors should also be aware that an employee who refuses to perform a task because he or she believes it's illegal, unethical, or immoral, or that it may place him or her in immediate danger of death or serious injury may have his or her rights protected in a court of law. When handling an insubordinate worker, it may be helpful to take into consideration the severity of the offense as well as the employee's past conduct record before choosing an appropriate disciplinary action.

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