At Osborne Employment Law, we represent individuals across Illinois in unemployment benefits appeals hearings. The Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act, 820 ILCS 405/100, et seq., is the state law that governs unemployment benefits in Illinois.  The Act is designed as a safety net when individuals unexpectedly lose they job. It is in place to prevent these people from falling into poverty while seeking new employment. Unemployment benefits are overseen by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (“IDES”).

The Unemployment Claims Process

The unemployment process begins with a newly unemployed individual filing an initial claim with IDES.  The individual, or “claimant,” can either file the initial claim in-person at their local IDES office, or can file online. The claim will be assigned an adjudicator who will generally have a short telephone conversation with the claimant. The adjudicator will then send a notification of the unemployment benefits claim to the employer, who can protest the claim. If the employer files a protest, the adjudicator will perform a brief investigation, and then make a “Determination” whether the claimant is entitled to unemployment benefits.

If the claimant or employer disagrees with the adjudicator’s determination, they may appeal the decision to a “referee,” or administrative law judge. It is essential that any appeal is made within 30 days of the determination’s date of mailing. 56 Ill. Admin. Code § 27200.200(b). Failure to timely appeal will likely result in an inability to change the adjudicator’s determination. After the claimant appeals the determination, the Referee will conduct a phone hearing. Both parties can present evidence and witnesses supporting their case at the hearing. The Referee will then issue a decision, which must be based “on the preponderance of the credible, legally competent evidence in the record.” 56 Ill. Admin. Code § 2720.250. The losing party can then appeal to the Board of Review, and continue appealing through the Illinois court system.

Common Unemployment Benefits Disputes

The most common dispute in unemployment appeals is whether the employer terminated the claimant for “misconduct,” as defined by the Unemployment Insurance Act. The original definition of misconduct is the deliberate and willful violation of a reasonable rule or policy of the employer, provided such violation harmed the employer or other employees, or it has been repeated by the individual despite a warning or other explicit instruction from the employer. 820 ILCS 405/602(A). However, effective this year, there are 8 additional grounds for misconduct, which consist of:

  1. Falsification of an employment application, or any other documentation provided to the employer, to obtain employment through subterfuge;
  2. Failure to maintain licenses, registrations, and certifications reasonably required by the employer, or those that the individual is required to possess by law, to perform his or her regular job duties, unless the failure is not within the control of the individual;
  3. Knowing, repeated violation of the attendance policies of the employer that are in compliance with State and federal law following a written warning for an attendance violation…;
  4. Damaging the employer’s property through conduct that is grossly negligent;
  5. Refusal to obey an employer’s reasonable and lawful instruction…;
  6. Consuming alcohol or illegal or non-prescribed prescription drugs, or using an impairing substance in an off-label manner, on the employer’s premises during working hours in violation of the employer’s policies;
  7. Reporting to work under the influence of alcohol, illegal or non-prescribed prescription drugs, or an impairing substance…; and
  8. Grossly negligent conduct endangering the safety of the individual or co-workers.

Contact Us Today

Illinois Unemployment Benefits Attorney

If you have been denied unemployment benefits, contact an employment firm today. Osborne Employment Law offers a complementary initial consultation to help determine how we can help you obtain unemployment benefits. Be advised there are strict time limitations in filing unemployment claims and appeals. Generally unemployment benefits appeals must be raised within 30 days of the underlying determination. Therefore, it is essential to contact an attorney as soon as possible.