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Misconduct Investigations

Experienced Federal Employment Attorneys

Insubordination/Failure to Follow Instructions or Policy

Insubordination is another frequently used charge, along with failure to follow instruction or agency policy. In Redfearn v. Dep't of Labor, 58 M.S.P.R. 307 (1993), the U.S. Merit System Protection Board (MSPB or Board) defined insubordination as “a willful and intentional refusal to obey an authorized order of a superior, which the superior is entitled to have obeyed.” Insubordination, in other words, requires a showing of intent. Failure to follow instructions, orders, or policy, however, does not carry the same element of intent. The agency can prove its charge by showing that proper instruction was given, or policy existed, and the employee failed to comply, whether or not the failure was intentional.

In general, even where an employee disagrees with an instruction or order, the safest course of action is the “comply now; complain later,” unless the employee has good reason to believe that compliance would put themselves, coworkers, or the public in immediate danger.

If you are under investigation for misconduct regarding insubordination or failure to follow instructions or policy, contact us today.


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