Can I obtain unemployment benefits if I was terminated due to the use of alcohol outside the workplace and off the clock?

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Can I obtain unemployment benefits if I was terminated due to the use of alcohol outside the workplace and off the clock?

I was recently terminated from my place of employment for the smell of alcohol on my breath from the previous day while not at work. I filled for my unemployment but it is to be determined by a phone interview that I have

coming up soon. Will I get denied. I feel that I have been wrongfully terminated

Asked on June 9, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

First of all, unless your termination violated the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, it was legal. The fact is that most work relationships are "at will". This means that a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit (absent some form of legally actionable discrimination). Accordingly, a worker can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. As for whether or not you are eligible for unemployment benefits, you must not have been fired for "cause". Typically this is for gross misconduct or of some sort (i.e. violation of company policy, criminal acts, etc.). Based on what you have written, having alcohol on your breath may well violate company policy. The fact is that your employer has no way to verify when you consumed the liquor, so it may have been done while on company time or, even if you drank off the clock, you may still have at least been inebriated while at work. Consequently, the unemployment office may find that your discharge was based on cause. At this point, you should consult directly with a local employment law attorney who can review the specific details of your sitaution and who can then further advise you accordingly.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

First of all, unless your termination violated the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, it was legal. The fact is that most work relationships are "at will". This means that a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit (absent some form of legally actionable discrimination). Accordingly, a worker can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. As for whether or not you are eligible for unemployment benefits, you must not have been fired for "cause". Typically this is for gross misconduct or of some sort (i.e. violation of company policy, criminal acts, etc.). Based on what you have written, having alcohol on your breath may well violate company policy. The fact is that your employer has no way to verify when you consumed the liquor, so it may have been done while on company time or, even if you drank off the clock, you may still have at least been inebriated while at work. Consequently, the unemployment office may find that your discharge was based on cause. At this point, you should consult directly with a local employment law attorney who can review the specific details of your sitaution and who can then further advise you accordingly.


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