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An employee who refuses to comply with instructions can be dismissed, the Italian Supreme Court rules

Written by
Toffoletto de Luca Tamajo, working in employment law since 1925.
An employee who refused to comply with an order from his employer to move to a new team had shown serious insubordination and could be legally dismissed, according to a recent ruling by the Italian Supreme Court.  

Voluntary and unjustified refusal to abide by an employer’s instructions is behaviour that constitutes serious insubordination and, therefore, justifies dismissal without notice for the employee involved, according to a recent ruling by the Italian Supreme Court.

In its decision of 4 February 2020 (no. 2515), the Court acknowledged that an employee, who voluntarily and without justification refused to follow instructions from the company that employed him, thus, in substance, contesting the employer’s power, had shown serious insubordination.

In this case, the employee had refused to be included in another work team, with a different group leader, for unjustified personal reasons. As a matter of fact, the employer’s order to the employee to move to a different team was actually justified by organisational needs and would have only entailed a change in work team and associated group leader for the employee and not a change in his working hours. The employee’s explicit and unequivocal refusal to comply with his employer’s directives was therefore totally unjustified.

The existence of serious insubordination in this case was demonstrated by the actual manner of refusal by the employee, who expressed himself disrespectfully towards his employer, in addition to showing absolutely no interest in seeking a compromise solution with his employer.