What Are Some Examples of Insubordination in the Workplace?

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Insubordination in the workplace happens when an employee is disrespectful and defiant by refusing a direct order from a supervisor or entering into a confrontation with a supervisor. When an employee is insubordinate, it does not mean that the employee simply does not agree with the employer or supervisor, but that they are refusing to work. The use of contemptuous or abrasive language is often misinterpreted as insubordination, but it may be better categorized as insolence.

For employees who are insubordinate at work, there are severe consequences. The employee is refusing to work and as such can be fired for breaching the employment contract. When an employee thinks that an order from his or her supervisor is unfair or is improper, the employee is still expected to comply because of his or her employment contract unless the order is illegal.

However, if a superior provokes an employee leading to a confrontation or is harassing an employee, then refusing to work is not considered insubordinate behavior. To fix this problem, it is important to not talk with coworkers or colleagues about the issue and to handle it discretely. The owner of the company or the supervisor of both the employee and the manager will handle the situation. If it becomes public knowledge then it can be considered insubordination, as the employee is considered to be ruining morale for the company.