Fired for dozing, employee may still get unemployment

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Don’t expect to escape unemployment compensation liability if you fire someone for sleeping on the job. If the reason is an underlying medical condition, the employee may be able to prove she wasn’t fired for cause.

Recent case: Charlene Heeney worked for a parking authority in the money room. She was fired when she was caught sleeping on the job.

Heeney applied for unemployment compensation benefits. She said she had told her employer she had sleep apnea, a condition that caused her to nod off suddenly, without any warning.

The court said she was eligible for benefits, essentially because it wasn’t her fault she fell asleep. (Philadelphia Parking Authority v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. 1995 C.D. 2009, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, 2010)

Final note: No word yet on whether she will also file an ADA failure-to-accommodate lawsuit.

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