Getting fired, nodding falling asleep, but under medication

Last weeks after working my overnight shift, I was so tired and while sitting in the office I fell asleep, well nodding off and on. I got fired and even after I told my HR rep that I believe the medication had a baring on my falling a sleep, she brushed it off, and I was fired. I have been at my job 11 years. Can I still collect unemployment

Asked on April 13, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You may be fired "for cause" for fallling asleep at work, and you can be fired for cause even if medication you were taking caused or contributed to you falling asleep: that is because being on medication does not justify or excuse falling asleep, and it is your obligation as an employee to not take medication that causes you to fall asleep at work (or take other steps to not fall asleep at work, such as drink coffee, make sure you had enought sleep, etc.). If fired for cause, you are ineligible for unemployment.
The above is how this situation would most typically play out, but it is possible that the examiner at the unemployment division/department will feel differently: therefore, it is worthwhile for you to apply for unemployment and, if initially denied, to appeal the denial, because it is possible you might receive it--but you only might get it if you try.


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