Can I Be Disciplined for Insubordination at Work?
The labor laws of Colorado do not include a definition of insubordination. Generally, unless you have a union contract or employment contract, you are an employee-at-will, and disciplinary procedures are a matter for the employer to determine, as long as not applied in a way that is discriminatory on the basis of age, race, sex, disability, religion, nationality. Generally, employee discipline will be governed by contract law principles of the disciplinary policies in an employment or union contract. As long as not discriminatory or in violation of contract terms, disclipline of employees is typically permissible. We suggest you read the terms of any union contract or employee manual or handbook carefully in regard to terms covering employee discipline.
Wrongful discharge claims are often made on the basis of discrimination against a protected classification (age, race, gender, nationality, handicap, or religion). If an employee isn’t protected by an employment or union contract, they are typically at-will employees who may be fired for any or no reason without notice.
Insubordination may be considered misconduct. It will be a matter of subjective determination for the agency, based on all the facts and circumstances involved. In a PA court case, the court stated as follows:
"willful misconduct has been defined as
"an act of wanton or willful disregard of the employer's interests,
a deliberate violation of the employer's rules, a disregard of the
standards of behavior which the employer has a right to expect of an employee, or
negligence indicating an intentional disregard of the employer's
interests or of the employee's duties and obligations to the employer."
Lee Hospital v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 589 A.2d 297,
299 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1991). The employer bears the burden of proving that a
claimant's behavior constitutes willful misconduct. Walsh v. Unemployment
Compensation Board of Review, 943 A.2d 363 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008). Once the
employer meets its burden, the burden then shifts to the employee to
prove that he had good cause for his actions. Id."
Another state defines it as follows:
(1) "Misconduct" includes, but is not limited to, the following conduct by a claimant:
(a) Willful or wanton disregard of the rights, title, and interests of the employer or a fellow employee;
(b) Deliberate violations or disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of an employee;
(c) Carelessness or negligence that causes or would likely cause serious bodily harm to the employer or a fellow employee; or
(d) Carelessness or negligence of such degree or recurrence to show an intentional or substantial disregard of the employer's interest.
(2) The following acts are considered misconduct because the acts signify a willful or wanton disregard of the rights, title, and interests of the employer or a fellow employee. These acts include, but are not limited to:
(a) Insubordination showing a deliberate, willful, or purposeful refusal to follow the reasonable directions or instructions of the employer;
(b) Repeated inexcusable tardiness following warnings by the employer;
(c) Dishonesty related to employment, including but not limited to deliberate falsification of company records, theft, deliberate deception, or lying;
(d) Repeated and inexcusable absences, including absences for which the employee was able to give advance notice and failed to do so;
(e) Deliberate acts that are illegal, provoke violence or violation of laws, or violate the collective bargaining agreement. However, an employee who engages in lawful union activity may not be disqualified due to misconduct;
(f) Violation of a company rule if the rule is reasonable and if the claimant knew or should have known of the existence of the rule; or
(g) Violations of law by the claimant while acting within the scope of employment that substantially affect the claimant's job performance or that substantially harm the employer's ability to do business.
(3) "Misconduct" does not include:
(a) Inefficiency, unsatisfactory conduct, or failure to perform well as the result of inability or incapacity;
(b) Inadvertence or ordinary negligence in isolated instances; or
(c) Good faith errors in judgment or discretion.
(4) "Gross misconduct" means a criminal act in connection with an individual's work for which the individual has been convicted in a criminal court, or has admitted committing, or conduct connected with the individual's work that demonstrates a flagrant and wanton disregard of and for the rights, title, or interest of the employer or a fellow employee.
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