Three best practices for terminating insubordinates

by on April 6, 2011 · 3 Comments POSTED IN: HR Cafe

Ever been tempted to summarily terminate an insubordinate employee who really ticked you off? Ever actually done it?

If you have, and you didn’t get sued, you may have dodged a bullet. Generally, it’s a huge mistake to dismiss an employee, even one who’s insubordinate, without taking a deep breath, going back to your office, and carefully thinking things through after you’ve cooled off.

Here’s a simple three-step plan for terminating insubordinates. Follow it and you’ll never let your emotions get the better of you. And you’re less likely to get sued:

1: DOCUMENT the insubordinate conduct.

Keep a record of each instance and, if there are witnesses, get them to attest to what they saw. If there are no witnesses, write down your version of what happened. And to put the icing on the cake, get the employee him- or herself to sign off on your account.


Don’t let the insubordinate employee keep getting away with bad behavior until the situation explodes. Following your organization’s policy, warn such employees, write them up and even suspend them.

The idea is to make sure you don’t surprise anybody if it comes to termination – not the employee, not yourself, and not your own superiors.

3: ENFORCE POLICY consistently.

In one case, a habitually tardy Hispanic worker showed up an hour late one day and his manager, who felt intense animosity for the worker, saw it as a provocation and fired him on the spot. The guy sued and won because his tardy rate was no worse than that of non-Hispanic workers. So he was able to argue that the boss had discriminated against him because of his national origin.

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3 Comments on This Post

  1. April 8, 2011 - 11:27 am

    Five for Friday: Great Reads on Business

  2. April 8, 2011 - 11:27 am

    Five for Friday: Great Reads on Business

  3. April 8, 2011 - 7:10 pm

    thoughtful post. Progressive discipline is the way forward.

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