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State supreme court to take up Langlande County case on work misconduct and unemployment benefits

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MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) – The State Supreme court is taking up a Langlade County case over unemployment benefits and illegal drug use.

At issue is whether a person who tests positive for illegal drugs while on an extended layoff and becomes ineligible for employment can still claim unemployment benefits. In May 2009 Daniel Berceau, an employee for Waldvolgel Trucking in Langlade County, was laid off indefinitely due to a lack of work. When he was due to be recalled in August, he tested positive for marijuana and was fired.

No official evidence has been entered that showed that Berceau had used marijuana between the time he'd been recalled and the time he took the drug test a day later.

Berceau filed an unemployment claim with the state. Benefits were awarded initially because the company couldn't show any misconduct had occurred while on the job. But an administrative law judge later ruled that the drug use would have invalidated Berceau's CDL and that the misconduct was implied in the use of the marijuana.

That ruling has been repeatedly reversed as it has been appealed, with judge ruling both that Berceau should have known drug use would violate his CDL, or that the company had no proof that Mr. Berceau had used drugs while off of an indefinite layoff.

The state supreme court the standard defining misconduct connected with an employee's work.

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