Is It Insubordinate To Not Sign A Write-Up?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about signing a warning:

Me and one of my supervisors were fussing back in Jan or Feb 2010. He wanted me to go into the water without the proper gear and I would not do it. It was cold and I was not about to get sick. If I had the proper gear I would have done it. We had a few words and was given a reprimand (a write-up).

I signed the write-up at that time, but now they are asking me to sign another one for the same thing. I refused to sign it, due to the fact that I signed one paper and now they are bringing it up again for some reason. I did not sign the paperwork and my supervisor told me it would be considered insubordination if I did not sign the form again.Would me not signing the papers be considered insubordination? One guy at work had an accident while he was drunk and he didn’t get wrote up or fired. Is this right?

Signed, Double Jeopardy

Dear Double Jeopardy:

If there is a written rule or regulation in your organization that all write-ups must be signed by employees whether they agree with them or not, then it could be viewed that you were insubordinate to not sign. However, few organizations have a policy like that. In almost every workplace, signing a write-up is merely a way to provide proof that you received it. It isn’t considered admitting anything. Just to be sure, many people write, next to their signature, “Signature only to indicate receipt of this document, not to admit wrong-doing.”

I’m wondering if you asked why you were receiving another write up for an offense, or if you read it closely to make sure it was for the former offense or for something more recent. It certainly does sound strange. And, it sounds to me as though the communications in your workplace are not very positive or encouraging!I don’t know if your organization is large enough for an HR section or for someone above your manager to whom you could talk about this situation. If there is, you should ask them to explain what this recent write-up was for and why you were being asked to sign something that happened so long ago.You might be able to put a good spin on your refusal to sign by saying that your supervisor didn’t try to explain anything to you, he just ordered you to sign the write up. You could say that he didn’t seem to care that you didn’t understand the situation. Then, you could say that you will sign it to indicate that you received a copy, if that is all that your signature means. But you don’t want to sign it to say that you felt you were wrong.

I think most people would understand your confusion about why this is being brought up again.I doubt that you and your supervisor will ever have a great relationship. But maybe in the future you can work to build a better one simply by including him in your conversations, asking for his advice or his opinions, and generally being someone who adds to the team and makes the manager’s work go better. You both win that way!As far as the situation about the other employee, there is no way to know exactly what that was all about. It may have been handled wrongly. But, from your viewpoint, all that matters is that you keep your job and do well in it.I hope you’re able to get this resolved so you can move forward with a smile instead of feeling frustrated at work.Best wishes to you! If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.