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Fired for Sleeping on the Job

Updated : October 8th, 2022

Fired for Sleeping

Can I collect unemployment if I have been fired for sleeping on the job?

Posted by HARD WORKIN MAN (Las Vegas, NV)

First off, I would like to start with how long I have been employed at this company, 10 years. I was on Family Medical Leave (FMLA) at the time I was terminated. I was in a company brake room with one other team member when three of my bosses walked in the room. The team member that I was with turned around and made eye contact with the three bosses while they were walking into the room, I on the other hand did not. My head was down “chin on my chest” due to the severe back pain I have this helps take the pain away for a while. They questioned the both of us about if we were sleeping “Both of us said NO”.

I explained that my back pain was very bad and I was resting my head on my chest to take the pressure off my back. They all three then told us both to wait in the break room while they went out to the hallway to discuss action to be taken, five minutes later all three came back into the room laughing and smiling and asked us to follow them to the office. When we arrived at the office they separated us, I was brought into the office first. My boss explained I was suspended pending investigation and would hear from an HR rep in the next few days.

The other team member was sent home for one day “with pay” and didn’t get suspended or fired, there reason was, when they walked into the break room, he was the one that made eye contact with them and I did not. A week later a peer review was held with myself, one of the bosses and an HR rep. During this review I brought them a letter from my doctor explaining all the meds I’m on and explaining the side effects of these drugs.

After the meeting the HR rep said they would have an answer for me within a week. Four days later my boss called me at home to explain I was fired for sleeping! Now I have a phone interview coming up in a few days with the unemployment office to see if I’m going to receive unemployment money. What should I do? Will my doctors letter help me receive unemployment money? What questions should I expect? Thank you.

Hi Hard Workin Man,

First off, how long you worked there is irrelevant.

But let’s back up a bit and answer this, you said you were in the break room… were you on an approved break?

Comments for Can I collect unemployment if I have been fired for sleeping on the job?
Terminated Twice for “sleeping”

by: Marni

I have been terminated twice (in the same year) several years ago for sleeping on the job (and I was). I do suffer from severe sleep apnea (well documented) and in both termination instances, I also had a cold going for which I had took some OTC medicine for in the morning (in both instances, termination took place in the afternoon).

In both cases I was denied unemployment because the employer said I was terminated for willful misconduct. In both cases, I appealed to the unemployment board, I explained my circumstances backed up with my medical information and the sleep doctor’s phone number. In both cases, the unemployment board ruled in my favor and I qualified for unemployment compensation.

So yes, if you have a justifiable reason (in my case medical) you can collect unemployment. Still, it’s a pain to explain this on job application forms (and never lie (nor volunteer), all a prospective employer needs to do is run a background check to see those unemployment gaps and may be able to see reasons for termination).

Unemployment for Sleeping on the Job?

by: Anonymous

Can I get unemployment if I was fired for sleeping on the job? Yes or no.

Anonymous, not even you will find it an easy go, if you think you can force me into giving you a yes, or no answer.

But since you did try to demand a yes, or no out of me, realize I’m not the person who with the power to decide if you will, or not.

But when I read your short, to the point question, it struck me as it might be motivated by a sliver of guilt that only someone sleeping on the job could muster.

And because of how I took your written words to mean you might be trying to sidestep the guilt of misconduct, it’s a safe bet to say I may be hoping the employer is able to make their burden of proof stick to you, or in plain English, you were fired for sleeping on the job, instead of doing the job you were getting paid to do, even while sleeping.




by: Chris

This is the strangest situation I ever heard of. You can do anything in a breakroom as long as you do not curse, abuse or in any way breach the peace of mind and safety of other employees. In fact, if this was an approved break, your boss has little right to even question you on anything during this time period.

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the comment, but why do you think this is the weirdest or strangest situation?

I once tried without success to talk an employer out of appealing a claim. The employer felt the gentleman should not have received benefits because she felt the person had violated their attendance policy for which he was fired.

He didn’t call in that day because he was in the emergency room having a heart attack.


for eating at my work station

by: Anonymous

I was called into the office, and informed by the district manager that I was being terminated for allegedly eating at a work station that I share with 12 other people to add insult to injury everyone was asked whose food was it but me, and the incident happened a week earlier.

I foolishly sign the complaint just because I was taking medicine and didn’t realize what I was signing. I still don’t have a copy and when I call for one, I get the run around, I was denied unemployment because of the fact they claimed I agree to the crock of bull and to make matters worse, it was the goodwill industries. what if any thing can I do?


File a timely appeal.



Can I collect unemployment if I have been fired for sleeping on the job?


Well, I’m not sure what they can prove or can’t prove but I do know that I was terminated and I’m sure they said “for sleeping”. This is why I’m nervous about receiving unemployment assistance.

To answer your question regarding whether or not I was on a scheduled break, yes, I was on a scheduled break and the reason I know this is because I was told by my supervisor to make up my own break times everyday just as long as I didn’t surpass one hour per day.

Prior to this incident I had never been written up for anything at all. I was never late for work in the 10 years I worked there I NEVER had any issues at all.
Thank you.

Well, Hard Workin Man, I can tell you that I’d take bets from anyone who said they weren’t going try to stop you from collecting.

But you ought to realize that a break is a break, as long as they didn’t say you were breaking a rule by being on that break too long or without permission, you can put your chin on your chest if you want to, hell I would even argue that you could have been snoring or had drool running down your chin and it still wasn’t misconduct, because you were on an “approved break”.

I know of no requirement that we must be alert while on an approved rest break, either allowed by the employer or required by law.



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