Q & A Session – Termination Based on Insubordination


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


After working in the federal government as a contractor for nine years in an at-will state, I was terminated. My manager had made comments that I felt were distasteful, embarrassing, belittling, derogatory and threatening. I had not had problems with managers in the past. My manager began to take tasks away from me, removed my restricted computer access and became very angry when I asked for a task assignment in writing. I emailed HR and was told this would be in my file. I was then terminated for insubordination. Were my actions insubordination? Do I have any recourse?


The facts you describe, occurring almost 1 ½ years ago, are beyond any time limit for recourse. It may be that there was little to be done anyway since you were an at will employee, but sometimes hostile remarks like those directed at you can be used to prove discrimination. But, the time limit for EEO has to be observed and you are too late.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

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About Author

Debra Roth

Debra L. Roth is a partner at the law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth, a federal employment law firm in Washington, D.C. She is general counsel to the Senior Executives Association and the Federal Managers Association, host of the “FEDtalk” program on Federal News Radio, and a regular contributor to Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show. Email your legal questions to lawyer@federaltimes.com.

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