Legal Memorandum: Court considerations guided by Unemployment Insurance Act when reviewing decisions on denied unemployment insurance benefits based on miscon

Issue: Under Illinois law, what considerations are involved when a court reviews a decision to deny unemployment insurance benefits based on misconduct under the Unemployment Insurance Act?

Area of Law: Insurance, Labor & Employment, Labor and Employment, Litigation Practice & Procedure, Litigation Practice and Procedure
Keywords: ; Unemployment Insurance Act; Misconduct; Involuntary
Jurisdiction: Illinois
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2016

The main purpose of the [Unemployment Insurance] Act is to relieve the economic insecurity caused by involuntary unemployment. [statref]820 ILCS 405/100 (West 2012)[/statref]; AFM Messenger Service, 198 Ill. 2d at 396. The Act recognizes that involuntary unemployment not only burdens unemployed individuals and their families but also threatens the health, safety, morals, and welfare of all Illinois citizens. [statref]820 ILCS 405/100 (West 2012)[/statref]. In light of this purpose, the Act must be liberally construed in favor of awarding benefits to unemployed workers. AFM Messenger Service, 198 Ill. 2d at 398; Universal Security Corp. v. Department of Employment Security, 2015 IL App. (1st) 133886, ¶ 9; Lojek v. Department of Employment Security, 2013 IL App. (1st) 120679, ¶ 34.

Because the Act is aimed at alleviating the burdens of "involuntary" employment, certain unemployed individuals are specifically disqualified from obtaining benefits. [statref]820 ILCS 405/600 to 614 (West 2012)[/statref]. For example, individuals who leave work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the employing unit ([statref]820 ILCS 405/601 (West 2012)[/statref]), individuals who are discharged for misconduct connected with their work ([statref]820 ILCS 405/602 (West 2012)[/statref]), and individuals who fail to apply for suitable work or who refuse suitable work when offered ([statref]820 ILCS 405/603 (West 2012)[/statref]), are ineligible for unemployment benefits. These disqualification provisions are intended to "act like gate-keepers against persons who lack a sincere desire to work and who seek to create situations where they can rely on government financial support." Lisa Lawler Graditor, Back to Basics: A Call to Re-evaluate the […]

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