“Is there an agreed definition of ‘insubordination’?”

Question: I was terminated for insubordination.

Is it considered to be insubordination if I was asked to leave work by a supervisor and returned the next day for a scheduled shift?     

Kirksville, Missouri    

Answer: I have never heard of “insubordination” having any definition other than the one in most dictionaries:  “To act against authority; to be disobedient.”

From the short description you have provided of what happened, it surely does not seem that you were insubordinate to me.

I suggest you write to the Head of HR at your former employer and explain what happened. It sounds like either (a) there was a miscommunication about what your supervisor said to you or meant when he/she said it; (b) there was a miscommunication between your supervisor and Human Resources; or (c) you have been treated by your supervisor in a dishonest fashion.

In your letter to the Head of HR mention that you did not mean to be insubordinate, but only to arrive at work the next day when you thought you were supposed to arrive. Raise the possibilities (a), (b) and (c) above as the only possible explanations you can think of. Mention that you have never been accused of insubordination before (if that is true). Tell them you would like your job back. Offer to apologize if you misunderstood the directive to leave the premises the previous day. Make it 100% respectful. 

We offer a Model Letter Defending Yourself Against Allegation of Insubordination at Work that you can adapt to your situation. If interested in obtaining a copy, just [click here].

That is the best that I can suggest. Of course, you should keep a copy of what you send, in case you need to present it to your state’s Unemployment Insurance Board with your application for unemployment benefits.

You’re in a difficult spot. Just do your best, and pray for the best. That’s the best you can do.

Best, Al Sklover

Alan Sklover’s Timeless Classic, Newly Updated and Revised

Fired, Downsized, or Laid Off:

What Your Employer Does NOT Want You to Know
About How to FIGHT BACK

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© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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