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Illinois Appeals Court
Nixes Negligence Case
Where Employee Nods Off

Employers not liable
to third parties for
sleep deprived worker's
injuries, even if work-related

Ever since the McDonald's case out of Oregon back in the 90s that held the restaurant liable for injuries an over-tired employee caused to third parties in an off-the-premises traffic accident, employers have been concerned that there may be liability for the worker that management knew - or should have known - was unfit because he hadn't slept much in days.  If a supervisor assigns an employee double shifts day after day, what is the risk of legal exposure for injury to others?

Recently the Third District Appellate Court sided with Harrah's Casino and rejected the precedent of the Oregon case. The court held that sleep deprivation that was work-related and caused injuries to a third party did not impose liability on the employer. Behrens v. Harrah's Casino (2006).