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Perez v. Board of Review

A-5053-99T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2001) (Unpublished)

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION—A driver who is fired because his driver’s licence is suspended for drunk driving must show that he or she was an alcoholic or that his or her alcoholism causes him or her to drink involuntarily; otherwise the firing is with cause, and the employee may not collect unemployment benefits.

After being convicted of driving under the influence, a truck driver lost his license and was fired because a driver’s license was required for his work. Then, he was denied unemployment benefits on the ground that “he voluntarily left employment without good cause attributable to his work.” The employee argued that although prior case law held that when a truck driver’s license is suspended, a truck driver is ineligible for unemployment benefits, he clearly should have been offered alternative employment. Further, he claimed that although he was unaware of his “alcoholism” before his conviction, his disease nevertheless made his drinking involuntary. The Court rejected both claims. First, there was no evidence in the record of an available alternative position. Second, an employee has the burden of proof to show that he is “an alcoholic or that his alcoholism” causes him to drink involuntarily. It is insufficient to simply testify that he “now recognizes that he was an alcoholic.”


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