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Quincy School Dist. #172 v. Bd of Review

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 30, 1984.

QUINCY SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 172, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

THE BOARD OF REVIEW OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT (ANN BOLAND, DEFENDANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Adams County; the Hon. Edward B. Dittmeyer, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE TRAPP DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff Quincy School District No. 172 brought this action seeking administrative review (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 110, par. 3-101 et seq.) of a final administrative decision of the Illinois Department of Labor's Board of Review finding defendant Ann Boland, a school bus driver, eligible for unemployment benefits for the period from December 27, 1981, to January 2, 1982. The circuit court of Adams County reversed, reinstating the decision of the agency's hearing referee, which denied Boland benefits, as modified by the court's reasoning. The Board of Review appeals. We affirm.

Two issues are presented by this appeal: First, whether the claimant was rendered unavailable for work because of the short duration of her unemployment; and, second, whether the period of school Christmas recess should be treated as "holidays according to the custom of his trade or occupation," under section 500(C)(2) of the Unemployment Insurance Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 300 et seq., specifically par. 420(C)(2)), or as a "period of shutdown for * * * vacation purposes" under section 610(A) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 440(A)).

Plaintiff school district went into recess at the close of the school day on December 18, 1981, and reopened on January 4, 1982. During this period, at which time defendant Ann Boland had been employed as a district bus driver for four years, Boland did not work and was not paid. She applied for unemployment compensation benefits, and a Department of Labor claims adjudicator found her eligible for benefits for the week of December 27, 1981, to January 2, 1982. The District appealed the claims adjudicator's eligibility determination on two bases: (1) that Boland was ineligible for benefits within the meaning of section 612(B)(2) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 442(B)(2)) as "during a period between two successive academic years or terms," and (2) that she was ineligible pursuant to section 500(C)(2) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 420(C)(2)) as unavailable for work on "days which are holidays according to the custom of his trade or occupation."

A hearing was conducted before a Department of Labor hearing referee on February 9, 1982. In his decision, the hearing referee did not address the issues raised by the employer under sections 612 and 500(C)(2), but found that the claimant was not available for work based on a finding that she preferred to work only part-time. Boland appealed the decision of the hearing referee.

By decision of March 18, 1983, the Board of Review (Board) reversed the referee's decision, referring to the recess period as a "layoff," and noting, with regard to Boland's availability for work, that she had certified she was available for work and prepared to return to work at any time during the vacation period. The Board rejected the District's arguments regarding Boland's disqualification under sections 612 and 500 (C)(2) of the Act:

"Section 612 provides that an individual employed by an academic institution shall be ineligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits for weeks between two successive academic terms or years, unless there is no reasonable assurance that the individual will be rehired.

Section 500C-2 states that an individual shall be considered unavailable for work on days which are holidays according to the custom of his or her trade or occupation, if the failure to work on such day is a result of the holiday.

The layoff in the instant matter did not occur between two academic terms or years, and therefore, Section 612 of the Act does not apply. Additionally, it is evident that the claimant's failure to work during the period under review was a result of the [District's] shutdown for a vacation period, and not because of the holiday, rendering Section 500C-2 inapplicable. Based on the testimony of each party, the evidence established that the claimant was subject to a short-term layoff of a definite duration during which she was available to accept suitable employment at any time, and that the eligibility requirements of Section 500C of the Act thus have been met."

Plaintiff district then commenced this action in the circuit court for administrative review. After hearing arguments, the circuit court reversed the Board of Review on the following reasoning:

"1. The claimant was unavailable for work within the provisions of sec. 500C2 of the Unemployment Act.

2. The claimant was unavailable for work because of the short time period involved in the Christmas holiday period.

The holding of the referee is re-instated as modified by ...


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