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Termination due to insubordination

When an employee is terminated because of insubordination, the employer must ensure that the insubordination should result in termination. Employees may refuse work that is unethical, illegal, or not in their job description without being considered an insubordinate employee. Employees who use threaten to harm their supervisors or other co-workers are being insubordinate, and may be legally terminated. Abusive or profane language to an employer or another employee is also grounds for being terminated due to insubordination.


All employees must be treated with respect, and those who are not may not be considered insubordinate because they show an employer or supervisor less respect. Employers can not allow one employee to speak or behave in one way, and then terminate another employee for behaving or speaking the same way. This is showing a bias, and arbitrators will not see this as termination due to insubordination.

Refusing Direct Orders

When an employer, supervisor, or manager gives an employee a direct order that is ethical and part of the employee's job description, the employee has a responsibility to carry it out. This order may be given verbally, by e-mail, or memo. Once the employee has received the order, the employee must act in a timely manner. Refusing to carry out the order of upper management is grounds for insubordination. As long as the order was ethical, and not life threatening, the employee has a responsibility for carrying out the order.

Harmful Threats

An employee may not threaten to harm an employer, supervisor, manager, or other employee of the company. When an employer gives an order, and the employee refuses the order then threatens the employer, this is grounds of insubordination. Threatening to harm other employees because they carried out the duties or orders they were given is also insubordination, and if this can be proven, and arbitrators and employers will not tolerate the behaviour, and termination can be the end result.

Abusive Language

An employee who uses abusive or profane language at work can be considered insubordinate because of this behaviour, and have her employment terminated. If an employer does not tolerate the language, and does not use it himself, then this could be legal grounds to terminate an employee who uses the abusive and profane language at work. The employee may not use the language in instances to undermine the authority of an employer or the morale of other employees. The employee may not call a supervisor a profane name after an order has been given, and the employee does not want to carry the order out. Abusive language to an employer or supervisor in front of other employees, or abusive language to other employees in front of an employer is not tolerated, and an arbitration committee may find this as grounds for termination due to insubordination.

Drug Testing

If an employee refuses to adhere to a criminal background check, or a drug and alcohol test, those are grounds for termination. If it is company policy for the employees at a company to undergo random drug tests, then each employee must take the drug test. Those employees who refuse the testing could be terminated due to insubordination. Arbitrators will feel the employee refused the test because they would have failed the test, which could have led to an immediate termination of their employment.