Insubordination and Compliance with Lawful Orders of Employer

Insubordination and Compliance with Lawful Orders of Employer

It may dawn upon an employee who does not want to comply with an order to file a case questioning its validity thinking that his filing will give him an excuse not to follow such command.

The Supreme Court ruled that it would be dangerous doctrine indeed to allow employees to refuse to comply with rules and regulations, policies and procedures laid down by their employer by the simple expedient of formally challenging their reasonableness or the motives which inspired them, or filing a strike notice with the Department of Labor and Employment, or, what amounts to the same thing, to give the employees the power to suspend compliance with company rules or policies by requesting that they be first subject of collective bargaining. It would be well nigh impossible under these circumstances for any employer to maintain discipline in its establishment.

An employer may issue show-cause memo to an erring employee and require him to answer within a specified period. But the worker may not submit his reply. Can that be considered as willful disobedience?

In one case, failure of an employee to answer memoranda of the employer was held clearly intentional.

It showed the employee’s perverse attitude to defy the reasonable orders which undoubtedly pertain to his duties as an employee.

Likewise, the Supreme Court found just cause to dis- miss the employee for her willful disobedience of the superior’s directives requiring her to explain her absence, violation of school policy and refusal to subject herself to medical examination.

Other cases where disobedience was held willful:

  1. Violation of the rule against the use of company- owned vehicles for private purposes without prior authority;
  2. Smoking in restricted areas;
  3. Refusal to render overtime;
  4. Refusal to be transferred when such transfer is valid;

An interesting scenario is the mandatory drug testing to be done in an office environment. May an employee refuse to be tested on constitutional grounds?

Can an employee invoke his right to privacy? In the case of Social Justice Society vs. Dangerous Drugs

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Board, the Supreme Court has this to say:

“Taking into account the foregoing factors, i.e., the reduced expectation of privacy on the part of the employees, the compelling state concern likely to be met by the search, and the well-defined limits set forth in the law to properly guide authorities in the conduct of the random testing, we hold that the challenged drug test requirements is, under the limited context of the case, reasonable and, ergo, constitutional.”

It follows that since the Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002,” is not unconstitutional, the drug-testing requirement should be carried out. An employee cannot refuse his participation. Any resistance without justification to any order by the employer may fall under willful disobedience.

The disobedience attributed to the employee could not be justly characterized as willful within the contemplation of Article 297 of the Labor Code. He neither benefitted from it, nor thereby prejudiced the business interest of employer. His explanation that his deed had been intended to benefit the employer was credible. There could be no wrong or perversity on his part that warranted the termination of his employment based on willful disobedience.

One cannot follow an order that he does not know of. Hence, the basic task of employer is to make known such order to his employee.

The order or mandate of an employer may come in a form of a written policy. But if it is unwritten, will any violation be subject to disciplinary action?

In the case of Manila Broadcasting Company vs. NLRC, the Supreme Court ruled that a policy may be lawful and reasonable but if the same is not sufficiently known to the employee, the alleged act committed by an employee allegedly in violation thereof may be considered in good faith.

How about if the policy is written but is relaxed in implementation, will any violation constitute willful disobedience?

Violation of a rule or policy which, in its implementation, has oftentimes been relaxed, may not lawfully give rise to termination of employment of the violator. More so when the act is with the acquiescence of the employee’s superior.

The mere fact that the numerous infractions of the employee have not been immediately subjected to sanctions cannot be interpreted as condonation of the offenses or waiver of the company to enforce company rules.

Read more on procedural due process discussion by Atty. Elvin:

Read more on procedural due process by Atty. Villanueva:

Twin Requirements of Notice and Hearing

Procedural Due Process for Other Types of Employment

Notice to Explain: Contents and Requirements

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