A former Pepco employee who claims he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder because he was fired for being drunk on the job isn't entitled to workers' compensation payments, the D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled.
Benjamin Ramey was a conduit installer for the utility during Labor Day weekend in 2003. He was called into work around midnight for "storm duty," court records show.
At about 3 a.m. Ramey appeared at his supervisor's office, who said Ramey's "speech was slurred, his sentences were unintelligible his breath smelled of alcohol, he was unsteady on his feet and his eyes."
Ramey and two supervisors left to go to an alcohol testing facility, but after two unsuccessful attempts and driving around for five hours, the men returned to Pepco. There a drug testing coordinator administered a breathalyzer test, on which Ramey tested positive for "drugs and/or alcohol," court records show.
Ramey was placed on suspension and told he had to take a drug and rehabilitation program. But Ramey was kicked out of a rehab program and fired because he continued to drink, court records show.
Ramey then filed a workers' compensation claim, saying he'd suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder because he was "mistreated and disrespected" when his supervisors took him on the unsuccessful five-hour trip to find a testing facility, court records show.
Ramey said he was "unaware of where he was being taken and that he feared for his life," records show. He urinated on himself because he wasn't allowed to use the bathroom, he also later felt embarrassed because "everyone at his office was talking about it," records show.
Ramey could not be reached for comment. Records show he represented himself in court.
His supervisors testified that the mood was jovial in the car on the way to the testing facility and Ramey wasn't made fun of for urinating on himself.
An administrative law judge ruled against Ramey, saying his psychological problems "were likely related to his inability to accept and adjust to his drug and alcohol addition."
The Court of Appeals upheld the earlier ruling, saying the judge's findings were "supported by substantial evidence" and led to a rational conclusion.