Safe at any speed

When Utility Worker George Eustis refused an assignment requiring him to operate a loading machine, Maintenance Supervisor Camden Furth asked, "What's the problem?" "The machine's set too fast. It's dangerous to operate." Furth disagreed.
By Raymond Dreyfack March 1, 2000

When Utility Worker George Eustis refused an assignment requiring him to operate a loading machine, Maintenance Supervisor Camden Furth asked, “What’s the problem?”

“The machine’s set too fast. It’s dangerous to operate.”

Furth disagreed.

“There have been complaints about that unit in the past,” Eustis persisted.

“I’m aware of that. It was checked out by Engineering. The machine has three speed settings. They all tested out okay. Get to work, George. The machine is safe at any speed.”

Furth returned to the area 30 min later to find the machine turned off.

“What’s going on?”

“I thought it over. I’m not risking my health. Assign the job to someone else.”

Furth’s lips tightened. “I’m gonna tell you one more time. Either get to work on the double or get canned for insubordination.”

“Not if I have something to say about it.”

His loud voice caught the attention of other employees nearby. Muttering an oath that reflected on the supervisor’s paternity, Eustis stomped off in search of the plant steward.

Question: Does Furth have a viable case for insubordination?

Green’s verdict: “Issue a discharge notice,” Plant Engineer Phil Green instructed. “On top of Eustis’ refusing a reasonable assignment, his insulting response in the presence of other workers cannot be tolerated. It’s a clear case of insubordination.”