Alcoholism not a defense for misconduct

Alcoholism not a defense for misconduct Matter of Gaiser and General Mills 82 A.D.2d 629 The employee, operating a forklift truck (which he was not authorized to operate) was observed to ram cartons ready for shipment, cartons of supplies and other items "while he and his two co-workers were consumed with laughter." He was subsequently discharged. When he was granted unemployment insurance benefits, claiming he was intoxicated on the night of the incident, the employer appealed. The Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board had upheld the payment of the benefit because "Gaiser was an alcoholic; alcoholism is a disease and that, accordingly, 'the claimant's behavior on his last night of work did not constitute misconduct' and that his termination was, therefore, under non-disqualifying circumstances." The Appellate Division rejected the argument which it viewed as concluding "that one afflicted with alcoholism is incapable of misconduct." The court then indicated that even if there was evidence that the employee was an alcoholic, benefits would not be available as "the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from (the Board's) decision is that the Board found the (Gaiser) was not capable of work." Section 591.2 of the Labor Law requires that the claimant be capable of work in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits.

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