If a worker is terminated from their job after showing up at work drunk, intoxicated, or smelling like alcohol, can that worker collect unemployment benefits in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, a worker might be eligible for unemployment benefits if the worker was discharged for conduct that was a consequence of the worker’s chemical dependency.
Unfortunately, very few employers and discharged workers know about this rule. As a result, unemployment benefits related to alcohol and intoxication poorly developed.
For example, the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently reviewed an unemployment appeal filed by a worker against Faribault Foods, Inc. In this particular case, a worker quit and walked off the job after being confronted by their employer for smelling like alcohol. As a result of smelling like alcohol, the employer asked the worker to take a drug test.
The worker declined the drug test and walked off the job. As a result, Faribault Foods discharged the worker for refusing a drug test.
After the worker was discharged for refusing a drug test, the worker applied for unemployment benefits in Minnesota. After the unemployment office reviewed the worker’s application for benefits, the worker was denied.
Regrettably, the worker failed to recognize or acknowledge his problem related to chemical dependency. Had the worker in this case consented to a drug test and or acknowledged a problem with alcohol, it is likely the worker in this case would have been eligible for unemployment benefits had he been discharged for substance abuse.
In other words, unemployment laws in Minnesota support workers who are discharged for alcohol related issues.
An employer who terminates a worker for alcohol use has certain duties and responsibilities upon notice that their worker is under the influence. Likewise, workers are held to specific standards and responsibilities when seeking treatment for chemical dependency use. Thus, substance abuse or alcohol abuse is a two way street as it pertains to unemployment benefits in Minnesota.
If you are appealing an unemployment claim in Minnesota and alcohol is involved, please consider seeking advisement from an unemployment lawyer.