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Is Falling Asleep Grounds to Terminate?

Winners & Losers: Is Sleeping on the Job Just Cause to Terminate?

Dozing off at work is like absenteeism on the job—only worse. In addition to impairing productivity and sapping morale, napping may endanger workers and the public if the employee who dozes off occupies a safety-sensitive position.  But is one napping on the job one of those egregious offences that warrants automatic termination? The short answer: No. As with other forms of misconduct, sleeping on the job must be disciplined according to the particular circumstances involved. Here are 2 cases illustrating the factors courts and arbitrators use to determine whether to uphold firing an employee for nodding off at work.

FIRING IS JUSTIFIED

FACTS

An autistic patient requires around-the-clock care. And given her history of violence, nighttime grand-mal seizures and wandering off, it’s imperative that nurses assigned to watch her stay awake for their entire shift. One night shift nurse doesn’t get the me...

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