It’s nice when a court decision affirms common sense. The Seventh Circuit recently did just that in Everroad v. Scott Truck Sys., Inc. Following her termination for insubordination, the plaintiff sued, alleging she had been subjected to age and gender discrimination, as well as retaliation. Both the trial and appellate courts found for the employer.
The evidence showed that the plaintiff engaged in several verbal skirmishes with co-workers and customers. The coup de grace was her telling her bosses they were “nuts, crazy, insane, and sick” and that the co-worker with whom she’d had a problem was a “f-word b-word”. The employer said enough is enough and terminated her employment.
Fair enough, said the courts. The Seventh Circuit held that being insubordinate is inconsistent with meeting the legitimate expectations of the employer. Furthermore, terminating someone for insubordination constitutes a “legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason” sufficient to overcome a prima facie case of discrimination.
While there are a lot of legal rules to navigate in today’s workplace, remember that you are still the boss and you don’t have to tolerate abusive employee behavior.