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I was fired for Insubordination. California

by Anonymous

I got fired yesterday for insubordination. I have worked there for 5 years. My company has been going through rough financial times and everyone is stressed out. I was promoted 8 months (because they fired the last assistant after she had been working there for 15 years)to be the assistant to the CEO and I have always received excellent reviews and pay raises, however, the stress of my current job was very bad and the executive VP of our company has been very nasty lately, causing me to be even more depressed and stressed out. He continually warns/threatens the admins. that "we want to keep all of you..." to make sure everyone feels threatened of losing their jobs. He's also been very short-tempered and snarled answers back to my questions, slams the phone down and generally disrupts the area with added drama. (He was my supervisor for 4 years - and he wasn't this bad before lately). Last Monday, I forgot to turn my cell phone on until after I had been at work for 1 hour. I remembered to turn it on and got a voicemail message from the CEO that he had an important message for another of his employees. I went to get the employee on the phone for my boss, the CEO and as I approached the area where the Executive VP was, he started yelling at me about the cell phone not being turned on. I explained as I continued walking, that I turned the phone on, and was getting the employee on the phone for the CEO. As I continued walking down the hall, it just slipped out - to nobody in particular, that "maybe he'll fire me".... because that's how I had become accustomed to worrying and feeling. It was sort of a "tilting at windmills" expression on my part.

According to my coworker, who witnessed the incident, the Exec. VP looked shocked that he had heard my remark, though the Exec VP never said a word to me about it - nor did my boss, the CEO until Friday when I was called into HR (the Exec VP and the CEO were absent) and HR told me they were firing me for insubordination for what I had remarked in the hall.

I only applied for unemployment last night but now I'm very afraid I won't be able to get unemployment due to the insubordination reference - and I won't be able to get a job either. I'm 54 years old and have been an excellent assistant for a decade now. Can you see any bright spot for me? Thanks

Hi Anonymous,

Yes. I can see a bright spot. Everyone in this nation is "stressed right now", emotional reactions to stress are beside the point in my opinion.

The outcome will depend entirely upon how the information is presented. And since you were not fired for the
inadvertent mistake of turning your cell phone on, but the "remark"....

You need to understand that even if the state of California initially denies you benefits, you can and should appeal because at the resulting hearing, the conditions of the work environment including the verbal abuse you endured along with the veiled threats of possible job loss etc., will play a factor. I liked your expression "tilting at windmills". If you read any of the other questions people have asked where they went into the details of their problem .. you'll notice there's a lot of "tilting" happening everywhere ... even this website is tilting at windmills.

From Don Quixote:

"Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless."

Okay, now that I've basically just been commiserating with you .. let's move onto exactly how California views the issue of insubordination so you can see the weakness of the employer's position is and move forward with laser like intent on what you need to do.

All links will open in a new window

Let's start with what they say about The burden of proof and presumption of eligibility. You'll notice that whether a person has been fired or quit, the people making the initial determination on unemployment benefits are supposed to presume good cause for a claimant. It is the information the unemployed person and the employer add that alters this presumption and amazingly, information without the details that would allow them to retain the presumption.

I would not call your action insubordination, but really just a disparaging remark, so take a look at how CA views that issue here.

Your written account includes the information (the recent working conditions and attitude of the employer) as to a motivating reason why what you said .. slipped out.

For good measure let's also take a look at how they view Disputing and ridiculing authority.

All misconduct issues can be referenced from here.

So what do I think is missing under all these possible issues an employer might try to prove?

Well, after you read the general discussion about what constitutes misconduct, you'll see that the employer needs to prove that what you did caused harm to their interests, but how can they do that when your focus has been upon all the things the employer has done of late to demoralize you as an employee and create the stressful environment which prompted the comment which was a minor error in judgment.

Please let us know how it turns out... for the next person.



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by: Anonymous

Hi - Me again. I got a notice from the EDD that I had been awarded Unemployment Insurance for 1 year. I also should be receiving the reduced rates for COBRA thanks to President Obama. No muss, no fuss.

At least now, I can relax instead of being in a constant panic over what my future brings. Hopefully the economy will have a nice uptick soon and we can all go back to work.

Thanks for your help. It was invaluable!!!!


Glad to hear it worked out .. and I second the wish for the future!!


Thank You!!!!
by: Anonymous

After reading your reply and all the links, I feel better and more hopeful than I have since I got fired. I will write up a statement of exactly what happened and all the circumstances that led up to how I was feeling that morning and what made me say what I said to be prepared when the UI representative calls me, and hopefully that will be enough.

I'll post how it all ends up as soon as I know.

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