Commercial Driver Fired For Driving Under The Influence Eligible For Unemployment Benefits According To Connecticut Supreme Court

Tuxis Ohr’s Fuel Inc. v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act, No. 18791 (July 30, 2013): The Connecticut Supreme Court recently addressed whether an employee who lost his commercial driver’s license for driving under the influence of alcohol while off duty and, as a result, was discharged from a job for which that license was required, was entitled to unemployment compensation. In a result that may come as a surprise to most employers, the court found that the employee was entitled to unemployment benefits.

The court rejected the employer’s argument that Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-236(a)(14) precluded the former employee from collecting unemployment compensation. The statute, which disallows unemployment benefits to a discharged employee who “has been disqualified under state or federal law from performing the work for which he was hired as a result of a drug or alcohol testing program mandated by and conducted in accordance with such law” did not apply, according to the court. Instead, the court agreed with the employee and found that the “testing program” contemplated by § 31-236(a)(14) included only employment-based drug and alcohol testing programs required by law, not police-administered testing related to off-duty incidents.

The court’s decision in this case is an example of judicial interpretation of a “remedial act” with the goal of construing it “in favor of its beneficiaries.” The court interpreted the Connecticut Unemployment Compensation Act in a manner most beneficial to the employee, resulting in a disappointing, if not perplexing, outcome for employers.

Note: This article was published in the August 15, 2013 issue of the Connecticut eAuthority.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. on:

JD Supra Readers' Choice 2016 Awards
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.