wrongful termination

if you let an employee go and categorize it as insubordination, even though the employee may not have been insubordinate by Webster's terms ( just a hard headed, obstinate employee) might there be any cause for litigation?


  • 3 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • You should always give the true reason for termination. Otherwise, if the employee sues and says "I wasn't insubordinate, the real reason I was terminated is Religion, race, age, etc." and you revise your reason later, the US Supreme Court says that a jury can infere that your true reason is unlawful discrimination.

    It sounds like from your brief question that the real reason for this termination might be "lack of interpersonal skills". You need to make sure that the person deciding to terminate can back up their decision with specific facts. ("insubordination" is not a FACT, it is a conclusion, based on a FACT [for example, the employee refused a direct order]).

    Generally it is better for the employer to nail down the specific conduct that results in termination before the termination. Otherwise a jury will think you are making it up.

    Good Luck!
  • The term "insubordinate" has been viewed by many labor arbitrators over the years to include such conduct as rudeness or disrespect toward a supervisor.
  • So long as you are not taking action based on a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason, you have no problem. As you know Arkansas is an employment at will state and you can fire someone for cause or no cause at all. You do not have to give a reason for termination, but if you do, I always suggest a catch all tag that says "You are being terminated for the following reasons, including, but not limited to, ...". That way, if something comes up later that can be thrown in as well. You certainly cannot prevent people from suing, but you should not have anything to worry about in your particular case.

    Gary D. Jiles
    Jack, Lyon & Jones, P.A.
    Arkansas Employment Law Letter
    (501) 375-1122
Sign In or Register to comment.