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Bronson Methodist Hospital v Triezenberg 12.129

Section 29(1)(b)

MISCONDUCT, Work Rules, Drug Usage, Prescription, Standard of Conduct

CITE AS: Bronson Methodist Hospital v Triezenberg, Kalamazoo Circuit Court, No. D03-000689-AE (October 15, 2004)

Appeal pending: No

Claimant: Amy Triezenberg
Employer: Bronson Methodist Hospital
Docket No. B2002-19519-RM9-170170

CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Claimant’s use of a prescription pain medication and her failure to notify her employer she was using it, in violation of the employer’s rules, constituted a disregard of the standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of its employees.

FACTS: Claimant worked as a patient care assistant. Her duties included providing basic care to patients and monitoring cardiac monitors. Claimant was found unconscious in the cardiac monitor room. She tested positive for opiates. Claimant later told her supervisor she was prescribed Vicodin for pain due to a recent biopsy but took the drug to alleviate leg pain. Employer’s drug policy prohibited an employee from being on the employer’s premises while under the influence of a drug which could impair an employee’s functioning. Employer’s policy also required an employee notify the employer when taking a prescription medication. Employer discharged claimant for violating its policies.

DECISION: Claimant is disqualified from receiving benefits.

RATIONALE: Possible side effects of Vicodin include “dizziness, light-headedness, nausea, sedation and vomiting;” and “make some drowsy, less alert, or unable to function well physically.” Employer’s policy specifically required claimant to disclose that she was taking a medication which was known to, or might, impair her work performance. “Clearly the taking of Vicodin would require an employee working in a hospital, especially one whose daily duty it is to monitor patient heart rhythms, to disclose to employer when she is taking Vicodin.” Also, claimant took the Vicodin for a reason other than as prescribed. Claimant’s intentional conduct deviated from that which the employer had a reasonable right to expect and evidenced a substantial disregard for employer and its patients.


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