TUXIS OHR'S FUEL, INC. v. ADMINISTRATOR, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION ACT, et al., SC 18791
Judicial District of New Haven
Unemployment Compensation; Whether a Truck Driver, Whose Employment was Terminated After he Lost his Commercial Driver's License for Driving While Intoxicated, is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits. The plaintiff employer appealed to the Appellate Court from the trial court's dismissal of its appeal from the employment security board of review, which had affirmed an award of unemployment compensation benefits to Gerald T. Aleksiewicz, a former employee of the plaintiff. The plaintiff discharged Aleksiewicz, who had worked as a fuel oil delivery truck driver, after his commercial license was suspended as a result of his arrest for driving, on his own time, while intoxicated. The plaintiff claimed that, because Aleksiewicz had disqualified himself from performing his work by failing a state alcohol testing program, as manifested by his state mandated license suspension, he was ineligible for unemployment benefits under General Statutes § 31-236 (a) (14). That section conditions disqualification for unemployment benefits on an employee's failure of a drug or alcohol testing program under state or federal law. The Appellate Court (127 Conn. App. 739) concluded that the plaintiff could not prevail because the evidence in the record was insufficient to establish the applicability of § 31-236 (a) (14). Specifically, the court ruled that the plaintiff failed to prove that Aleksiewicz lost his commercial driver's license because of an alcohol testing program under state law. The court stated that the only evidence the plaintiff submitted on this issue was Aleksiewicz's failure to pass an alcohol test administered by local police and his consequent loss of his state commercial driver's license. Accordingly, the Appellate Court held that the plaintiff had not proven the existence of a state program that would relieve it of the burden of contributing to its former employee's unemployment compensation. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that the plaintiff was liable for unemployment benefits under § 31-236 (a) (14).