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In One Job, at Least, a Legal Right to Nap


Over 1,000 garbage truck drivers in Los Angeles are $15,000 richer this week, after the City Council opted to settle a class action suit that claimed drivers were improperly prevented from napping during their half-hour lunch break. Their attorney argued that by not allowing the drivers to catch some Zzzs on the job, the city demanded they remain “on duty,” even when resting. The total payout was $26 million dollars.


(Photo Credit: ubrayj02/Flickr)

Needless to say, not everyone’s happy about it.

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“I just am appalled that a court can take it upon themselves to assert that we have to retroactively pay [workers] for lunch breaks that were in fact taken by our employees,” says Councilman Paul Krekorian, who also tells The LA Times that the drivers’ union signed off on the rules.

The drivers’ attorney Matthew Taylor successfully argued that by demanding the drivers stay awake, the city not only deprived them of a total break from their duties, but endangered citizens.

“It’s a hazard to the public if you have commercial truck drivers who are fatigued and are not allowed to take a nap during their breaks,” he says.

What does this have to do with you, when odds are you’re not a trash truck driver in LA? Well, although you’re unlikely to be able to threaten legal action if your boss won’t let you snooze at work, you might be able to draw insight from one of the reasons behind city officials’ reluctance to let drivers nap. In short, they feared that the public would see a driver on break, and think they were sleeping on the job.

So if you’re going to try to persuade your boss to let you start catching a few winks on your break, remember: the goal isn’t just to convince her that napping will boost your productivity, improve your demeanor, and reduce stress. You also have to persuade her that other people won’t see you napping, and think you’re not doing your job.

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Do you think employers should let their workers nap on the job? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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