California DMV Worker Slept on Job Three Hours a Day for Nearly Four Years, Audit Finds

July 25, 2018 Updated: July 25, 2018    

An employee at the California Department of Motor Vehicles was found to have slept for extended periods of time at her desk during work hours, a state audit found.

The California State Auditor’s Office said the woman, a key data operator, “failed to perform her essential duties over a period of nearly four years because she slept at her desk for extended periods of time during work hours.”

The woman misused more than 2,200 hours of work time as a result of sleeping on the job, from February 2014 to December 2017, the audit found.

That sleep time cost the state more than $40,000.

The worker’s supervisors were aware of her misuse of time but “failed to take disciplinary or medical action against the employee after initial efforts to address her conduct proved unsuccessful,” the audit said, as the supervisors speculated the sleeping was due to a medical condition but failed to ask for proof of a medical condition.

(California State Auditor’s Office)

Expected to process an average of 500 documents daily, the woman, who was not named, only managed to process an average of 200 documents daily.

Officials at the department told auditors that they couldn’t discipline the worker because her behavior wasn’t properly documented because the supervisors hadn’t used the appropriate language in their corrective memos.

After supervisors finally asked for medical proof in late 2016, two years after the sleeping was first witnessed, the woman’s physician informed the department that the employee couldn’t perform her duties as a key data operator.

“The DMV then tried to locate a suitable vacant position with duties the employee could perform but was unsuccessful. In November 2016, after exhausting its options, the DMV finally denied the employee’s reasonable accommodation request and informed her that she could retire, resign, or return to work as a key data operator with a release from her physician indicating that she could perform her duties,” the auditors wrote.

“The employee chose to return to work as a key data operator with a release from her physician in January 2017; nonetheless, she continued to sleep at work and failed to meet the unit’s production standards. Therefore, from January 2017 to December 2017, the supervisors once again had sufficient time to issue adverse action because the employee did not have a reasonable accommodation in place.”

The auditors added, “Moreover, if the supervisors still believed that the employee had a medical condition that caused her to fall asleep, they could have required the employee to submit to a medical examination by a physician selected by the DMV, as state law allows. However, the supervisors also failed to take this course of action.”

The auditors recommended disciplinary action against the supervisors, but the department stated that they were given training and not disciplined.

The case of the DMV worker is one of 1,481 cases of alleged improper activities by government workers investigated by the California State Auditor’s Office over the past year.

Other highlights of the report, according to the authors, include two employees at California State University–Fresno who took extended breaks or left the premises over a five-year period, resulting in a failure to account for more than 5,100 hours of work; one Kern Valley State Prison employee who regularly left 45 minutes early from work over two years; and a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection official who built an unauthorized structure in the backyard of a state residence he was renting with the help of his staff.