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Crocker v. Department of Labor

OPINION FILED JANUARY 19, 1984.

LOWELL CROCKER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES — (LEONARD WEISS, MANAGER, WINNEBAGO COUNTY BUREAU OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY DIVISION OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE, THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, ET AL., DEFENDANTS).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County; the Hon. Robert Gill, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE SEIDENFELD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Lowell Crocker appeals from a judgment affirming the decision of the Illinois Department of Labor Board of Review (the Board), which affirmed the denial of compensation benefits to him.

The Board decided Crocker was ineligible for benefits under section 500(C) of the Unemployment Insurance Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 420) because he voluntarily left his job without good cause attributable to the employer. (Ill. Rev Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 431.) The circuit court affirmed the Board's decision on the basis that the employee had voluntarily left his job without good cause attributable to the employer under section 601(A) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 431(A)), and the exceptions set forth in section 601(B)(5) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 431(B)(5)) did not apply.

Crocker had been employed full time as a manager of a tire store until April 1981, when the store closed. He filed a claim for unemployment insurance benefits with the division of unemployment insurance.

While collecting benefits, Crocker took a part-time job as a construction worker and later as a part-time employee with K-Mart, began working for K-Mart as a mechanic/janitor sometime around July 4, 1981, and voluntarily quit on July 18, 1981. He continued to report to the unemployment office and collected benefits from July 26, 1981, through August 29, 1981. A claims adjudicator declared that Crocker was ineligible for benefits from July 26 through October 17, 1981, or until he found work equal to at least six times the weekly benefit amount, whichever occurred earlier, and that he had been overpaid from July 26 through August 29, 1981. Upon redetermination, a claims adjudicator found that, under section 900 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 490), Crocker left his job without cause attributable to the employer and did not report that to the Unemployment Insurance Office. The claims adjudicator found, therefore, that Crocker must repay the benefits paid to him from July 26 through August 29, 1981. Crocker filed an application for reconsideration with the Department of Labor, maintaining that he was eligible for unemployment benefits because he left unsuitable work voluntarily with good cause under section 601(B)(5).

Crocker testified that from March 1980 until he lost his job in April 1981, as the manager of the tire store, his earnings from this job were approximately $1,200 per month. At K-Mart, plaintiff worked approximately 20 hours per week at an hourly rate of $3.50 per hour. While he thought he would receive training as a mechanic, most of his duties consisted of mopping floors and cleaning the bathroom. He also stated he was dissatisfied with being scheduled to work on Sundays, which interfered with his teaching Sunday school and attending church, with the lack of opportunity for advancement, and with the unpleasant and unprofessional atmosphere. He reported the earnings from this job to the Department of Labor. He stated there was no reduction in his weekly benefit amount for two of the three weeks he worked at the K-Mart position and a reduction in the third week was inconsequential.

The referee affirmed the claims adjudicator's determination and denied the claim for benefits. He held that the employee voluntarily left employment without good cause attributable to the employer under section 601(A) or within the limited exceptions specified in section 601(B)(5).

The Board of Review and the circuit court affirmed.

On appeal, Crocker contends that the decision of the Board is against the manifest weight of the evidence. At issue is the validity of the agency's finding that the employee was ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits because he voluntarily left his work without good cause contrary to section 601(A) of the Act which provides, as material:

"An individual shall be ineligible for benefits for the week in which he has left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the employing unit and, thereafter, until he has become reemployed * * *" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 431(A))

and contrary to the exceptions in section 601(B)(5) of the Act to work

"[w]hich he had accepted after separation from other work, and the work which he left voluntarily would be deemed unsuitable under the provisions of section 603." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 431(B)(5).

The Act is designed to provide unemployment insurance benefits for the unemployed person who is willing, anxious, and ready to accept suitable employment and who meets certain statutory conditions prescribed. The Act permits claimants to supplement their benefits with earnings from part-time employment. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 402.) As the receipt of unemployment insurance benefits is a conditional right, the burden of proving eligibility before the Board rests with the claimant. Yadro v. Bowling (1980), 91 Ill. App.3d 889, 893; Rosenbaum v. Johnson (1978), 60 Ill. App.3d 657, 662.

Under section 603, a claimant may reject work or referral to employment if the job in question is not "suitable." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 433.) In determining whether certain work is suitable, consideration must be given to various factors, including any risk to the claimant's health or safety, the claimant's physical fitness, his or her prior training and experience, the claimant's prior earnings, the length of time for which the claimant has been employed, the prospects for securing local work in the claimant's customary occupation, and the distance of the available work from claimant's residence. Ill. ...


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