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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Teacher's Dismissal for Positive Blood Alcohol Test Overturned by Court

The Chicago Board of Education terminated a teacher after she reported to work with a blood alcohol level of .053.  After the assistant principal smelled alcohol on the teacher's breath at 8:30 a.m., he reported this to the principal, who then called the teacher into his office.  The principal called the teacher into his office, and requested that a certified technician perform a breathalyzer test.  The test was administered at 11:32 a.m., and registered at .053 BAC.  Based on the drug and alcohol free workplace policy, the teacher was terminated from her position.

The teacher appealed her termination to the , arguing that CPS failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that she was "under the influence" of alcohol, and that her BAC test alone was not sufficient to establish that she was "impaired."  The appellate court reversed the Board's decision to terminate the teacher, finding that decision arbitrary.  In the court's view, the BAC test was not enough to establish that the teacher was "under the influence."  Kinsella v. Board of Education of Chicago et al., 2015 IL App (1st) 132695

Based on this court's ruling, an employer may not be able to rely on a positive BAC test to discipline or terminate an employee for violation of its drug and alcohol policy without additional evidence of "impairment."  

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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