Use documentation to show insubordination

Some employees will never be happy and seem to do everything possible to interfere with a normal, well-functioning workplace. Oh, they may grudgingly do their work, but in the end, their failure to follow directions causes more trouble than they are worth.

When that’s the case, don’t hesi­­tate to terminate the disruptive worker. Just make sure you document her shortcomings.

Recent case: Diane filed an internal discrimination complaint and then an EEOC complaint. When she didn’t get the result she sought, she began to question her managers.

She also essentially refused to follow the rules everybody else had to follow. For example, Diane repeatedly failed to report to her assigned work area. She filed leave requests for days she was scheduled to work and attempted to work days when she was not scheduled. She refused to participate in investigative interviews, even after receiving warnings that her presence was required.

She was finally terminated for insubordination.

Diane sued, alleging retaliation for her earlier complaints.

The court tossed out Diane’s claim because she couldn’t point to any other employee who had behaved so badly and hadn’t been fired. Her case was dismissed. (Mendez v. Donahoe, No. 11-56938, 9th Cir., 2013)

Final note: Insubordination is fairly easy to prove if you carefully document individual incidents over the course of time. Don’t jump the gun too early—let the employee really show she isn’t going to cooperate. That way, it doesn’t look as if you began targeting her only after she filed a complaint.

Be sure to keep good notes and explain exactly what the em­­ployee did or didn’t do. Show that you warned her repeatedly about her behavior and that nothing changed.