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Chestnut v. Lodge

OPINION FILED MAY 23, 1966.

WILLIAM J. CHESTNUT ET AL., APPELLANTS,

v.

WILLIAM T. LODGE, DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION, ET AL., APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Appellate Court for the Fourth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. CREEL DOUGLASS, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SOLFISBURG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT: Plaintiffs commenced actions in mandamus and for declaratory judgment in the circuit court of Sangamon County for the purpose of contesting their layoff as employees of the Department of Conservation of the State of Illinois. After a lengthy hearing the trial court ordered that the plaintiffs be restored to their positions and be granted back pay. The appellate court reversed on the ground that plaintiffs had no right to challenge the propriety of their layoff except by proceedings under the Administrative Review Act. (62 Ill. App.2d 27.) We have granted leave to appeal.

Plaintiffs were employees of the Department of Conservation holding positions as Park Supervisor I or II and were under the provisions of the Personnel Code. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1963, chap. 127, pars. 63b101, et seq.) In July, 1961, the defendant Director of Conservation recommended the abolition of such positions to the defendant Director of Personnel and requested approval of the layoff of the personnel occupying such positions. The recommendation was approved by the Director of Personnel and the plaintiffs were notified of their layoff because of abolition of position.

On July 21, 1961, plaintiffs filed a request for hearing before the Civil Service Commission. On July 26, 1961, the Civil Service Commission denied the request for hearing on the ground that it had no jurisdiction in the case of layoffs. Thereafter these plaintiffs instituted an action for administrative review in the circuit court of Sangamon County.

While that action was pending plaintiffs commenced the present mandamus actions and defendants filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of the pendency of the prior action. For all that appears in the record, defendants apparently abandoned this position and filed an answer and fully litigated the issue of the propriety of the layoffs.

In the appellate court on oral argument the court requested additional briefs on the appropriateness and exclusiveness of the administrative review procedures in layoff cases. After the submission of additional authorities the appellate court held that plaintiffs' sole remedy was by administrative review.

The primary issue on this leave to appeal therefore is whether or not these layoffs should have been reviewed by the Civil Service Commission and their decision reviewed under the provisions of the Administrative Review Act.

We held in People ex rel. Chicago and North Western Railway Co. v. Hulman, 31 Ill.2d 166, that the administrative Review Act provided the exclusive method to review administrative decisions under an act incorporating that type of review by express reference.

Section 11a of the Personnel Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1963, chap. 127, par. 63b111a,) specifically makes all final administrative decisions of the Civil Service Commission subject to the provisions of the Administrative Review Act, and therefore establishes the exclusive method of review in such cases. However plaintiffs insist that the Commission had no jurisdiction in the case of layoffs. It appears that this has been the uniform administrative view of the jurisdiction of the commission since the enactment of the Personnel Code.

Defendants however now insist that these layoffs were reviewable by the Commission under either section 10 or 11 of the Personnel Code. Section 10, (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1963, chap. 127, 63b110,) sets forth the powers of the Commission, and insofar as it is material here, provides:

"(4) To approve or disapprove within 60 days from date of submission the position classification plan submitted by the Director as provided in the rules, and any revisions thereof within 30 days from the date of submission.

"(5) To hear appeals of employees who do not accept the allocation of their positions under the position classification plan.

* * *

"(8) To hear and determine written charges filed seeking the discharge, demotion of employees and suspension totaling more than thirty days in any 12-month period, as provided in Section II hereof, and appeals from transfers from one geographical area in the State to another, and in connection therewith to administer oaths, subpoena witnesses, and compel the production of books and papers."

Section 11 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1963, chap. 127, par. 63b111) provides for hearings for employees who have been removed, discharged, demoted or suspended for cause upon written ...


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