Some employees think they can behave like jerks at work without any consequences—as long as they don’t harass co-workers. They shout, scream, get in your face and generally create an unpleasant workplace.
You don’t have to put up with that kind of nonsense.
Instead, institute clear rules against such behavior. Put them in your employee handbook. Then enforce those rules—up to and including firing those who just won’t change their ways.
Recent case: Two black managers supervised Vicky Moyer, who is white. She was a patient care technician at a clinic serving dialysis patients.
Moyer’s trouble began after a meeting with her supervisors to discuss her timeskills. They disagreed about what patient activities needed to be documented. The meeting ended when Moyer got angry and left the room screaming.
Later, she arrived late for a required staff meeting and began neglecting to clock out at the end of her day. She also had to be constantly reminded to put on appropriate safety gear.
When Moyer was fired for insubordination, she sued, alleging race discrimination.
But the court threw out her case. It said that insubordination and violation of company policies are justifiable grounds for termination. Moyer simply wasn’t meeting reasonable expectations and couldn’t prove that anyone outside her protected class (white) who was insubordinate and broke rules was punished less severely. (Moyer v. DVA Renal Healthcare, No. 09-1660, 8th Cir., 2010)
Final note: When confronting insubordination, good documentation is key to discipline that stands up in court. If the employee is refusing to obey orders, note exactly what it is she was asked to do and why. Be specific. Note witnesses and get statements from them.
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