Fired for Insubordination? Really?

By Lindsey Novak

January 3, 2013 5 min read

Q: I am an experienced, sharp, efficient 50-year -old woman who has worked all of her life. I had a great track record, and my managers loved me. Then I was transferred to a new department with a 30-year, inexperienced male manager. I was totally open and accepting and didn't care that he was a manager, and I worked for him. On the first day, he told me he wasn't going to micro-manage me, and that I knew what I was doing, so he was going to let me do what I needed to for getting the job done.

But the next day, he walked around making angry, aggressive comments to me like, "You think you're so smart, don't you!" "You think you know everything." "You think you're better than everyone else." It was the strangest thing I've ever experienced. He has no people skills, nor does he care. He was openly jealous of me, and he didn't even realize how sick his comments made him look. He also proved to be vindictive, dishonest and unethical.

I couldn't figure out why he hated me until I remembered that I caught one of his mistakes and corrected him. I saved him before he could make a mistake in front of clients that would have shown him to be careless and naive, He should have thanked me for catching it early, but he didn't. That's when he railed me for thinking I was better than him. I should have let the mistake be made so he would have looked like a fool, but I have always operated as a team player no matter how horrible others are.

He then set up a phony situation, called me into a private office and fired me for insubordination. After telling me I should do my work as I always do, he ordered me to do something that would have lost an account. I told him that wouldn't be a good idea, so he fired me for refusing to follow his order. I have never seen such bizarre behavior in a boss. He apparently had planned it and asked his boss to go along with it.

The company has now denied me unemployment. I have never been fired in my life. To show more of what he is like, he called another one of his employees who was 50, "a crotchety old man." The man quickly got another job and quit, but didn't file a complaint with the EEOC, so his comment is not on record. What should I do?

A: You are in luck. "The fiscal cliff negotiations continue and the federal Emergency Unemployment Insurance program will continue through December 2013," reported the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

You are going to file for unemployment and stand up for what's right. He is not a typical 30-year-old and certainly not a typical manager. When you file for unemployment, you will have to state the reason reported in your personnel file. But you must also argue against insubordination and report the events leading up to being fired. It's understandable that the other 50-year-old worker quit; it's just unfortunate he didn't write a letter to the company's human resource department to report that manager. (Your manager's boss is probably unaware of that incident, which is why he is backing him on your case.)

You will be given an appointment either by phone or in person to explain your side of the story. If you see the investigator in person, bring all the complementary memos about you to show that this manager's accusation is false.

Be calm and present yourself as the emotionally mature and professional person you are. This manager's insecurity, jealousy and ignorance should show its ugly self when he is asked questions in your hearing. Since his boss backed him, it's possible he lied to his boss about the situation. Once you report the truth, the interviewer should see through this trumped up charge and award you compensation.

Email all your questions to workplace expert Lindsey Novak at [email protected] She answers all emails. To find out more about Lindsey Novak and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Website at COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

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