Government Waste

Report: DMV Worker Sleeps 3 Hours a Day at Work for 3+ Years, Keeps Job

Her supervisors have been aware of the problem for a while.



An employee of the California Department of Motor Vehicles spent hours asleep most workdays for almost four years, according to a state audit. Despite that, she's still employed. And that's just the most eye-popping moment in a report that detailed several instances of "misuse of state time and property and economically wasteful activities" that together cost tapayers more than $200,000.

From February 2014 to December 2017, the unnamed data operator "likely slept for at least three hours each day" for a total of 2,220 hours of misused time, the report says. The employee's frequent naps cost the state "more than $40,000 in salary for her wasted work time."

The constant sleeping forced the woman's colleagues to pick up her slack. Data operators are expected to process an average of 560 documents per day, but she was only able to average 200, so her colleagues had to "take on her unfinished workload." The work she did do was subpar and mistake-ridden, according to her employee evaluations.

So why did she keep her job? It's not as though her supervisors had no idea what was going on. But they either underestimated her ability to snooze for long periods of time or just didn't care enough to do something about it:

During the investigation, the employee's supervisor stated that because she woke up the employee three to four times each day, she believed the employee missed only 20 to 30 minutes of work time daily. However, four witnesses reported consistently observing the employee sleeping at her desk for hours at a time during work hours, rather than the 20 to 30 minutes estimated by the supervisor. In fact, two of these witnesses estimated that the employee slept for a minimum of three hours each workday because the supervisor did not consistently wake up the employee even when the supervisor was aware that the employee was sleeping.

Starting in February 2015, the employee's bosses repeatedly warned her that sleeping on the job was unacceptable. But she kept doing it, and they took no action to stop her. The supervisors may have thought she had a medical condition, but they didn't even take the correct steps (such as requiring her to undergo a medical examination) to address it.

In January 2017, the woman received a release from her physician "indicating that she could perform her duties," the report says. Nonetheless, "she continued to sleep at work and failed to meet the unit's production standards."

After the state auditor started investigating the case, DMV officials said they couldn't take action against the employee because "previous corrective memorandums" issued to her "did not contain the appropriate language necessary for such disciplinary action." In March, the employee was finally issued a memo with "the necessary language" to let the agency penalize her if she keeps sleeping on the job. The DMV has also said it's working with human resources to decide her ultimate fate.

But even if this woman learns to stay awake during business hours, that will barely scratch the surface of why Californians generally hate the Department of Motor Vehicles: its long lines and mind-numbing paperwork. Next month, lawmakers are holding a hearing to discuss the DMV's wait times. Hopefully the bureaucrats who attend won't sleep through it.