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What Is Misconduct in the Workplace?

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Work can be stressful at times, especially during economic downturns when employees may need to boost productivity due to limited budgets. Stress, job dissatisfaction and anger may lead to misconduct in the workplace or even off-site. Misconduct is unacceptable behavior that's categorized as either general or gross. You may get a warning for general or minor misconduct, but you must change your behavior to keep your job. Gross misconduct, the more serious kind, can be grounds for immediate dismissal.

Excessive Tardiness or Absences

Some tardiness or inexcused absences usually fall within the general midsconduct category. You may show up late for work some days or fail to call in when you're sick. If this behavior becomes habitual, it may soon be considered gross misconduct, especially if you've been warned in the past. The definition of gross misconduct can vary by state or even employer. Skipping a day of work to interview for a job may fall within that realm.


Insubordination is another type of misconduct in the workplace. It is often considered gross misconduct if it disrupts productivity or hinders sales. Insubordination is a defiance of authority directed toward a higher level manager or boss. This defiance can include a lack of respect, disregarding deadlines and doing things outside the scope of what's permitted. An example of insubordination hindering sales is defying your manager in front of clients, which can result in lost projects.

Rudeness and Abusive Language

There is no place for rudeness and abusive language in the workplace. Blatant rudeness and the use of foul language is usually considered gross misconduct, especially if it is regularly demonstrated on the job. But the employer must establish guidelines for this type of behavior. For example, some cursing and rudeness may be acceptable among homicide detectives in a stressful environment, but would probably be grounds for dismissal in a church. A one-time loss of your temper may result in a written warning. If this is behavior is repeated, you'll probably be looking for another job.

Dishonesty and Theft

Dishonesty and theft are almost always considered gross misconduct. Dishonesty can include padding an expense statement with inflated charges or using company property for personal gain. For example, you may use the company copy machine to print fliers for your part-time business. Theft includes embezzling money from the company safe or petty cash fund or stealing equipment and supplies from an employer.

Off-Site Misconduct

Misconduct can also occur outside the office after hours. Those who use or sell drugs, drink or fight in public or leak confidential information are engaging in gross misconduct. This type of misconduct can especially be damaging to you or your company if are an executive or hold a prominent position in government.

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