Sleeping On The Job

Sleeping At Work Desk

Sleeping at Work…

Sounds Funny Right?

Most people probably think that getting caught sleeping at work is grounds for immediate penalty but that is not always the case. There are several instances where sleeping on the job is not cause for termination and your employer may even be obligated to pay you.

Medical Conditions

Is It A Disability?

Millions of Americans have a sleep disorder.  Even more take medication that lists drowsiness as a side effect.  Can these individuals be fired if they are caught sleeping on the job.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects against discrimination in employment on the basis of a disability.  The law requires an employer provide reasonable accomodation for a disability.  There are several cases where courts allowed individuals to bring lawsuits under the ADA when they were fired for snoozing.

Try Not to Snooze Though

But I wouldn’t go napping on the job with impunity.  The law allows job-related conduct rules that are uniformly applied and have a business necessity to be valid reasons for termination.  The Eighth Circuit in 2008 in McNary v. Schreiber upheld an employer that terminated an employee for falling asleep on the job despite a medical condition.

Unemployment spelled out in scrabble letters

Can I Get Unemployment Compensation if I Have Been Fired for Sleeping?

Benefits may be denied if the individual’s unemployment is due to willful misconduct, such as a deliberate violation of the employer’s work rules.  In a case involving the Philadelphia Parking Authority decided in 2010, the employee was deemed eligible for unemployment despite falling asleep on the job four times in a month and being terminated.  The court determined that she did not deliberately violate the employer’s rule against sleeping on duty because she was diagnosed with sleep apnea and informed her employer that she needed additional work to keep her from falling asleep because there were long periods where she had nothing to do. Her employer didn’t give her any additional responsibilities.

Can I Sleep and Get Paid?

If an employee is at work more than 24 hours, no more than 8 hours may be deducted for a sleeping period.  In order to do so, the employee must be able to achieve at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep and the employer must provide a sleeping area.  An employee on duty less than 24 hours is considered to be working and must be paid even if permitted to sleep when not busy.

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