Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Marilyn R. Komosa, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Greiman
JUSTICE GREIMAN delivered the opinion of the court:
Plaintiff Karen White brought this action on administrative review from a decision by the Board of Review (Board) of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (Department) denying her unemployment benefits. The trial court dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding plaintiff filed her complaint for administrative review after the 35-day jurisdictional period had expired. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 110, par. 3-103.) Plaintiff appeals on grounds that her complaint was timely filed 35 days after her attorney received notice of the Board's final decision.
We reverse the trial court and remand this matter to the Board for a rehearing on the claim adjudicator's decision to deny plaintiff unemployment benefits.
After plaintiff was terminated from her employment at Michael Reese Hospital, she filed a claim pro se for unemployment insurance benefits with the Department which a claims adjudicator denied on August 20, 1990. Plaintiff appealed the decision to a referee who scheduled a hearing for October 10, 1990. Plaintiff was unable to attend the hearing, and the referee rescheduled for October 26, 1990.
Although plaintiff's former employer appeared at the hearing, plaintiff, allegedly due to the Department's failure to notify her of the rescheduled hearing date, did not appear.
On October 30 the referee affirmed the claims adjudicator's decision finding plaintiff ineligible for unemployment benefits on grounds of misconduct as authorized by section 602(A) of the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 48, par. 432), and mailed a copy of its decision to plaintiff's last known address.
Plaintiff retained the Loyola University Community Law Center (counsel) to pursue her appeal pursuant to Department regulations which provide:
"A person may designate an agent to receive his notices and decisions by filing the name and address of the agent with the Agency. In such cases, notice to the agent so designated is notice to the person. A person's designation of the agent shall remain in effect until the Agency receives a notice that the agency relationship no longer exists." (56 Ill. Adm. Code § 2720.5(b) (1989).)
Counsel notified the referee by letter dated November 13, 1990 of its representation and attempts to reschedule the original hearing regarding plaintiff's appeal, unaware that the hearing had been rescheduled and a determination reached.
On December 5 counsel mailed a written request for a rehearing, claiming neither it nor plaintiff received notice of the October 26 rehearing date until November 20 when the referee called counsel's office to inform it of the rescheduled hearing and attendant determination.
On December 12 the referee mailed to plaintiff's last known address, but not to counsel, a letter denying the rehearing request since the motion was filed outside the 30-day period to appeal referee decisions. See 56 Ill. Adm. Code § 2720.300 (1991).
On January 16, 1991 counsel requested that the Department issue a decision regarding the December 5, ...