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Sleeping on the job

December 4, 2014

Ever since I began litigating employment discrimination cases, I have routinely been asked about the unfairness of getting fired for sleeping on the job when everyone else at the company sleeps on the job too.  At first I thought it went without saying that unless your job duties included sleeping on the job, it is quite fair for your employer to fire you for sleeping while at work.  Well it has to be said, so I will say it... Yes your employer/ boss can fire you for sleeping on the job, even if everyone else does it, if it is a violation of company policy to fall asleep while at work. 

This makes sense when you think about it. I mean how much work can you really accomplish if you're asleep?  And isn't that what your being paid to do, get work done? Your employer can certainly fire you for failing to get your work done (poor performance) and violating company policy (sleeping on the job).  Then there's that nagging gut feeling that sneeking a nap on the job is just plain ole wrong! We have all become tired while at work at one point or another, but falling asleep on your job often communicates a messages you may not intend which could lead to you losing your job. For instance, falling asleep at work could be perceived as your disregard for the quality of your performance.  This could negatively impact your bosses perception of how you will approach your job duties overall.  It could communicate an intent to steal for the company by sleeping at a time when you are expected to be working and getting paid for that time. Falling asleep on your job can also communicate a lack of care for your employment.  Employers understand the job market and the availability of potential employees who could replace you.  If falling asleep on the job gives your boss reason to believe you have no regard for doing a good job and that you should be replaced, they know where to go find your replacement.  What falling asleep on your job does not communicate is that you should be protected from being fired.  

 

If you must sleep on the job, here are a few tips... (1) take a nap on your break or at lunch.  Go out to your car and sleep it off; or (2) if you have a door to your office, CLOSE IT and enter dream land.  If you're going to do, at least take steps to ensure your no one can see you power napping. 

 

To be clear, I am not promoting sleeping on your job.  What I am clarifying is that it is not an unlawful employment practice to catch an employee sleeping on the job and to fire them for that reason, EVEN IF everyone one else does it. If this happens to you, you most likely do not have a million dollar discrimination accusing your employer of firing you for sleeping, but failing to fire your coworkers who also sleep on the job.  Perhaps you were the only one to get caught.   Refer back to 

above.  

 

The moral of the story is... don't sleep on your job if it's against company policy! You might get yourself fired with no recourse.   

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