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Burke v. Board of Review

OPINION FILED MAY 1, 1985.

PATRICK BURKE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

BOARD OF REVIEW, ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS (MCCARTIN, MCAULIFFE MECHANICAL CONTRACTORS, INC., DEFENDANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. S. Bruce Scidmore, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE SCHNAKE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendants, the Board of Review (Board), and the Illinois Department of Labor (Department), appeal from an order of the circuit court, entered in an administrative review proceeding, that reversed the Board's determination that the plaintiff, Patrick Burke, was not qualified for unemployment insurance benefits under the provisions of section 601(A) of "An Act in relation to a system of unemployment insurance" (Unemployment Insurance Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 431(A)). The Board argues that the trial court's order must be reversed for two reasons: (1) that the court below improperly considered and relied upon evidence outside the administrative record; and (2) that the Board's determination — that the plaintiff was not entitled to unemployment insurance benefits — was not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

The plaintiff had been employed by McCartin, McAuliffe Mechanical Contractors, Incorporated (McCartin), as a pipefitter at the Dresden nuclear power station for three months prior to November 1, 1982. Subsequently, Burke applied for unemployment compensation benefits. In his application Burke stated that he left his job with McCartin "to take another job because he felt that conditions were hazardous at Dresden due to a lack of safety precautions."

On December 15, 1982, an Illinois Department of Labor claims adjudicator determined that the plaintiff was ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits. The adjudicator found that the claimant voluntarily terminated his job to take another position that did not materialize. The adjudicator decided that the termination was not attributable to the employer and concluded, therefore, that the plaintiff was not qualified for unemployment insurance benefits under the provisions of section 601A of the Unemployment Compensation Act.

Approximately two weeks later, the plaintiff filed a timely appeal from this determination with the appeals section of the Unemployment Insurance Division of the Department, and on January 8, 1983, he was granted a formal hearing before a Department hearings referee. At this hearing Burke stated that he felt he had another job (with Amoco Oil) when he quit his position with McCartin at Dresden, but the new job with Amoco Oil did not materialize. He related, also, that he orally notified his supervisor of his intention to quit, but admitted (1) that he failed to provide any reason for his leaving, and (2) that he did not report the allegedly unsafe conditions to his employer so that they could be rectified. He testified, in addition, that he feared he would be branded a troublemaker if he complained about the purportedly hazardous conditions. Also, he remarked that his supervisors were already cognizant of the unsafe conditions. Finally, Burke claimed that before he quit two fellow employees were found to be contaminated with radiation upon departing the facility. As a result, his co-workers lost some clothing and had to take a shower. However, he himself was not found to be contaminated.

The referee was also presented with evidence, in the form of a letter from the plaintiff's supervisor at McCartin, that the plaintiff did not mention to him that he was leaving due to hazardous working conditions; rather, Burke merely mentioned that he was quitting.

On January 31, 1983, the hearings referee denied the plaintiff's claim for benefits under section 601(A). In his findings of fact, the referee stated that the plaintiff left his job "because he considered that areas of radiation were still unknown and as such the work areas were hazardous." The referee found, also, that the claimant hoped to start a new job at the time of his departure from McCartin, but the new position did not materialize. Lastly, the referee found that Burke "did not discuss the reasons for his dissatisfaction with his work with his supervisor before leaving."

In reaching his decision to affirm the determination of the claims adjudicator, the referee concluded:

"Since the claimant failed to discuss the reasons for his dissatisfaction with his work with his supervisors in an effort to try to remedy them before leaving he failed to use all reasonable means to remain employed as he was obliged to do

and therefore his leaving must be held to be without good cause attributable to the employer and subjects the claimant to the disqualification for benefits * * * [under] Section 601A of the Act."

The plaintiff appealed to the Department's Board of Review, which affirmed the referee's decision on April 29, 1983, stating that the referee's findings of fact and decision found support in the record and the law.

On June 3, 1983, the plaintiff filed the present action for judicial review of the Board's decision. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 110, par. 3-101 et seq.) Thereafter, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint for administrative review, appending as exhibits to it certain news releases and letters from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The Board and the Department moved to strike the exhibits on the ground that they had not been made a part of the administrative record previously.

The trial court reviewed the amended complaint and all the exhibits attached to it. On June 24, 1984, the court below denied the motion to strike, remarking that the materials were relevant to the proceedings and, therefore, should be part of the record. After determining that the plaintiff had reasonable cause to terminate his employment, the court reversed the Board's decision. The Board and the Department appealed in timely fashion (see Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 110, par. 3-112).

• 1, 2 The Board's first contention is that the trial court erred when it admitted and considered the exhibits, in the form of news releases and letters from the NRC, the plaintiff appended to his amended complaint for administrative review. The Board concludes that the trial court's improper ...


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