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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12627
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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29 Apr 2015, 9:11 PM Thanks again, Patrick, very

Customer Question

29 Apr 2015, 9:11 PM Thanks again, Patrick, for your very helpful information in response to my first inquiry. I need more guidance, however, because there is more to this letter of reprimand. It ends with this: "Your refusal to adopt more organized working
habits that would enable you to keep track of the magazine content and meet your deadlines continues to negatively impact your coworkers and their ability to meet their deadlines. With this letter of reprimand, I am reminding you of the critical importance
of meeting deadlines. Failure to comply will be considered gross insubordination and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination." Since 2008, I have been the editor of a magazine published by this organization and have never missed
the deadline for sending an issue to the president for her review on time or to the printer on time. I have received many compliments on my work from the president, and in fact, she just approved the new issue in glowing terms. Within the production schedule,
however, there are other deadlines for completing certain content, to give the graphic designer (who is also the managing editor who sent me the reprimand) adequate time for layout. Due to inadequate staffing for this publication, in my opinion, and a few
factors beyond my control, I admit I have sometimes been a few days behind schedule, but I have worked hard to improve my performance and I have never intentionally missed deadlines. Indeed, I have worked long hours to try to keep up, staying late in the Stafford
office by myself many weekday evenings for five years, as has been witnessed by the staffer who sent me the reprimand. In addition, I have worked many weekends as well. As I am salaried, none of the overtime is compensated. An added complication is that I
am also now the caregiver for my very elderly and disabled parents (which is why I now work from out of state), and thus am not able to put in as many extra hours as I once did, to keep up with the schedule. I could accept criticism of my time management record
as a failure, but I am very concerned that this is now being construed as "insubordination." And I have the clear impression that this language is intended as a means of denying unemployment benefits, should I be terminated--which seems likely if I miss even
one more deadline. What can I do to address the charges of insubordination and ensure that this can't be used to block unemployment benefits, if I am laid off?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your followup question.
Insubordination is an intentional failure to obey the direction of one's employer. Despite your employer's efforts to characterize your performance issues as "insubordination," they simply don't meet that definition.
To make this even more clear for the purpose of preserving your unemployment benefits should you be fired, it would typically be prudent to respond to your employer in writing, clarifying that you understand their criticism and are doing your very best to adjust your performance accordingly. What you are doing here is creating documentation to support your claim that none of your performance issues are intentional, and that you are trying the very best you can to meet your employer's demands. This should be sufficient to preserve your unemployment benefits, as it is generally quite difficult to establish insubordination and I don't foresee your employer being able to do it based on these facts.
I hope this helps and I wish you luck moving forward.