Disrespectful to your employer?

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While disagreements between employer and employee are to be expected from time to time a recent case study shows the consequences of disrespect and insubordination in the workplace.


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By Jonathan Goldberg
The labour courts distinguish between the two offences of insolence and insubordination. Insolence warrants disciplinary action and if it is particularly serious, dismissal. It includes impudence, cheekiness, disrespect or rudeness. It is a central tenant of the employment relationship that the employer and employee are to be treated with respect and employees cannot overstep boundaries and be rude and disrespectful to their employers or those in authority.
In a recent case, a meeting was held whereby two managers were addressing staff as to the installation of cameras in company motor vehicles. The employee became argumentative and disruptive in the meeting and was asked to leave whereupon he turned back and stated that he was not scared of the manager that asked him to leave and wagged his finger at him.
The employee had argued that the installation of cameras inside the vehicles invaded employees’ privacy.
The employer found the employee’s behaviour disruptive in that he continuously argued with managers as well as being insubordinate. At the arbitration, the employee’s response was that although he had disagreed with the managers present, he had conducted himself in a respectable and polite manner.

The CCMA Commissioner found that it was probable that the employee had acted the way he did as he was angry at the manner in which he was addressed and such conduct was not in line with the employer’s code of conduct. In addition, if the employee was aggrieved at the decision taken, he should have followed the employer’s grievance procedure.

Managers, particularly, senior managers, are entitled to be treated with respect and it was for this reason that the Commissioner found the employee’s dismissal to be both procedurally and substantively fair.

The critical point for employees and employers alike, is that employees are required to show respect to their employers, even in the course of disciplinary enquiries.
Jonathan Goldberg, CEO of Global Business Solutions. For any queries, please contact us at [email protected]


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