Philadelphia Employment Law News

Sleeping on the Job at PPA Will Get You Fired, but Could Keep UC

There are all kinds of reasons why we don't get enough sleep. Some are fun, some not so much. No matter the cause, it is usually against the rules to sleep on the job. Naturally, if you break the rules and are caught, you'll probably lose that job. And if you're intentionally breaking them, you probably won't get Unemployment Compensation ("UC") either.

Charlene Henney worked the night shift at the Philadelphia Parking Authority ("PPA") from 3:30pm to midnight. During her shifts she usually got drowsy because of her later diagnosed sleep apnea, so she asked her supervisor at PPA for more work to keep her awake, according to Upon Further Review. The PPA didn't give her the extra work and there were several occasions when Henney was found to be asleep.

The PPA fired Henney for sleeping on the job and then contested her application for UC, who do you think won?

UC, sometimes known as unemployment insurance or "UI," is the system that pays out benefits to those who lose a job through no fault of their own. Employers pay into a state fund that is paid out to unemployed people who are eligible to receive it.

To be eligible in Pennsylvania, you must have been working for at least 18 weeks and earned over $1,688 in one three-month period, lost your job through no fault of your own, and be able to start a new job.

When you apply for UC, your former employer may contest your application, or your claim could be denied. If this is the case, you can request or attend a refereed hearing within 15 days of receiving your notification.

Here, PPA appealed Henney's application because it claimed that Henney had caused her firing through her breach of PPA's rules against sleeping on the job. PPA claimed that her sleeping was "willful misconduct" that caused her to be ineligible to receive benefits.

However, Henney was able to prove that she did everything that she could in order to stay awake, including asking for work to keep her busy. The referee ruled in her favor because PPA had not shown that Henney's sleeping was intentional.

All in all, do what you can to stay awake at work, because sleeping on the job can cause more headaches than it might cure. But know what your rights are and that you can appeal a decision you feel is wrong.

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