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Wrongfully Accused of Insubordination

Discussion in 'Employment, Labor, Work Issues' started by Cindee11, Sep 14, 2008.

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  1. Cindee11

    Cindee11 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    A couple of weeks ago I was given a verbal warning for "insubordination" as a result of an email that was a reply to what I now find out to be the Director of Marketing with my company.

    Basically, an email was initiated by our HR department representative to all employees asking to JOIN her in welcoming a former employee back to the company. Most everybody that knew this former employee "replied to all" with their various welcome back messages.

    Apparently, the Marketing Director was bothered with all of the "replied to all" emails and made a SUGGESTION that we not "reply to all". At the time, I felt the tone of her email was rude and I replied to all saying that I didn't realize that replying to all could offend someone and that it's very simple to just delete the emails..

    First of all, I do not report to this marketing director. I report to the director of engineering and operations and the director of engineering and operations does not report to this marketing director either as far as we know.

    From research that I have already done, it would seem that an employee would have to know that this person is their supervisor in order for "insubordination" to exist. There has been no organizational chart distributed within our company to even know who reports to who. There are no rules or disciplinary actions for breaking rules listed in our handbook.

    HR has stated that I can be accused of insubordination even though this was not my supervisor, but a member of management. Again, who knew that she was a member of management? And she can issue this so-called "order" over my director's head? I would like this verbal warning removed from my file. Do I have a case? Sorry for the lengthy thread.

    Cindee
     
  2. jacksgal

    jacksgal Super Moderator

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    A case for what? You sent the email. Your intent may not have been negative but it was taken that way. Much in the same manner you took "tone" of email to you as negative. Can they do this sure they can. Can you fight it? Sure you can but look at bigger picture. How will this effect your future employment? If it were me I woud just move on and do my job and not make waves.
     
  3. Cindee11

    Cindee11 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks for the reply jacksgal. I'm more than willing to move on, but I would like to find out if this incident is considered insubordination if this was not my supervisor. It just seems that from what I've researched already, that insubordination did not occur by definition. Thanks again.
     
  4. jacksgal

    jacksgal Super Moderator

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    Yes it can be. Now save your job and move on
     
  5. presutin

    presutin Moderator

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    Does the title "Director" mean anything to you? Here is the definition of the title: One who, or that which, directs; one who regulates, guides, or orders; a manager or superintendent

    Of course she can. She is at the same level as your director.

    Not really, but a verbal warning is just that. It doesn't really make that much of an impact on your record.

    Hope this helps!
     
  6. Cindee11

    Cindee11 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you Presutin for your reply. Of course I know what a director means and the director of my department gets nothing but my respect. However, if you re-read my original post, you will see that it was not known that this individual is a director as there is no organizational chart and her email signature also contains no title.

    My intention is not to "sue", but to speak to the COO regarding the issue and present to him the suggestion to either remove it from my file now or possibly after a year as some other companies do.
     
  7. presutin

    presutin Moderator

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    I understand and that is why email is a sucky means of communication. People can and often misinterpret what you are trying to convey, no matter what the ranks. Anywho, don't worry about the verbal warning. It will go away with time. Good luck to you!
     
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  8. las365

    las365 New Member

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    Whatever you do, don't bring more attention to this incident by taking it to the COO. That would just be foolish, and would only focus negative attention on you with people even higher up than the one you have already aggravated.

    As a general suggestion, if you think someone is being rude in the workplace, responding in a way that seems confrontational or rude yourself is a poor strategy.

    Let this go.
     
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  9. Cindee11

    Cindee11 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you las365. Under normal circumstances I realize it would not be a good idea to go to the COO, but the COO and I have been with the company since it's inception and we have an "open door policy" so I know he will be willing to listen to my argument. If it helps, fine, if it doesn't help, that's fine too. I will move on as suggested and planned to do that anyway. Thank you again.
     
  10. jacksgal

    jacksgal Super Moderator

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    You do realize that by going to COO you could be openning pandoras box? I concur with other replies it not in your best interest to pursue this.
     
  11. Cindee11

    Cindee11 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    thanks jacksgal. i understand why you may see it that way, but as I mentioned, the COO and I have been with this company since its inception and he has already thanked me for reaching out and taking advantage of the "open door policy". He will be meeting with me in the next couple of weeks. Thanks so much for the professional replies.
     
  12. jacksgal

    jacksgal Super Moderator

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    The COO is not where my concern for you laid. I understand why you want to do this. I just dont feel its a wise career move. You could create a hostile work enviroment. Have people choose sides. Damage your advancement. To name a few. You do what you feel I just think you should think twice before doing this and look at all possible outcomes and how it will effect you, COO and the company.
     
  13. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    FYI, there is no legal definition of "insubordinate". It is whatever the employer decides it is. If the employer thinks you were insubordinate, then you were. There is no requirement that there be a direct reporting relationship.

    You have NO legal grounds to insist that this be removed from your file, and by continuing to pursue this you are likely to find yourself in deeper trouble - quite possibly without a job at all.

    Move on.
     
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  14. Cindee11

    Cindee11 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks cbg for your reply. If an employer decides what "insubordinate" means, then the employer should advise the employees of what their definition of insubordinate is and the consequences of being insubordinate. In my case there is nothing in our handbook. If the employees are unaware, then they can be accused of being insubordinate if they use the wrong pen, tie their shoe the wrong way, etc.... I know that sounds ridiculous but just trying to make a point. From what you're saying, the employee has zero rights. I never intendend on taking legal action. I will just offer my point of view and move on as I had planned. I am extremely secure with my job. Thanks again very much.
     
  15. jacksgal

    jacksgal Super Moderator

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    You have the right to quit or right to appeal. Which you have. Seems fair to mean. Much like sexual harrassment its hard to define. Yes you have rights as does the employer. Just in this case there is no action other than appeal you can take
     
  16. Cindee11

    Cindee11 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks again jacksgal!!! I really appreciate your input. What bothers me most about this whole issue is that the employer really needs to make the employees fully aware of what they expect in terms of rules of conduct or they will continue to have employees disputing their accusations when there are no guidelines. According to cbg's comments, if the employer can define insubordination themselves, then the employees need to know what it is before verbal or written warnings are issued. I apologize for going on and on about this, but it's been great to vent to you all about this.
     
  17. jacksgal

    jacksgal Super Moderator

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    Whether they should or should not is an endless debate. The law itself does not define this.
     
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  18. Cindee11

    Cindee11 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hi all,

    Just letting you know that I did in fact end up meeting with the COO with some success. It turns out that he agreed that the tone of the email from the marketing director was very wrong and that he advised her that it was not appropriate. Also, he is in agreement that since our corporate handbook has no rules or guidelines along with consequences for not following them listed, that the verbal warning should not remain in my file indefinitely. It was mentioned that there are other employees who rarely even showed up for work, and was given no warning at all, so this was very unfair to issue me a verbal warning for something so petty. He will be speaking to our HR representative to find out the length of time that this verbal warning will remain in my file and let me know. I will keep everyone advised. Thanks again to all of you for your input.
     

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