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11/22/95 CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY v. LOLETA A.

November 22, 1995

CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
LOLETA A. DIDRICKSON, DIRECTOR, ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, BOARD OF REVIEW, AND ITS MEMBERS INDIVIDUALLY, ROLLAND W. LEWIS, JOHN G. CASHMAN, STANLEY V. MUCHA, GARY J. SULLIVAN, JON R. WALKER, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, AND TENICIA SMITH, DEFENDANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Honorable David R. Hultgren, Judge Presiding.

Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied April 3, 1996.

The Honorable Justice Zwick delivered the opinion of the court: McNAMARA, P.j., and Rakowski, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Zwick

The Honorable Justice ZWICK delivered the opinion of the court:

This matter comes to us on appeal from the ruling of the circuit court, which reversed the decision of the Board of Review, which reversed the determination of the referee, which reversed the finding of the claims adjudicator regarding the eligibility of defendant Tenicia Smith *fn1 for unemployment benefits. We now reverse.

Defendant Tenicia Smith was hired by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) as a participant in its "summer student program" under which full-time college students are hired on a temporary basis during the summer months to perform the duties of permanent employees who are on vacation or are absent from work for other reasons. The structure of this program requires that participants be enrolled full-time in college at the time of hiring, and must be registered or must intend to register as a full-time student for the fall term following their participation in the program. Each year, the "summer student program" terminates on September 30th, and all applicants are informed of the conditions and duration of the program prior to hiring.

Smith signed an application for a temporary term of employment with CTA on May 13, 1992, which stated that she was "eligible to return to school" and "[would] be registering for the next academic term immediately following this employment." Prior to hiring Smith, the CTA obtained a certification from Chicago State University that she was a full-time student during the term January 6, 1992 through May 15, 1992. Smith was employed as a temporary full-time bus operator from May 14, 1992, until September 30, 1992. Prior to her termination date, Smith decided not to return to school for the 1992 fall term, and she inquired about obtaining permanent employment with the CTA. Because she had not received a response to her request for permanent employment when her employment term under the "summer student program" expired, Smith was obligated to leave her temporary full-time position. Smith thereafter filed a claim for unemployment insurance benefits. The CTA filed an employer's protest, asserting that Smith was disqualified from receiving benefits because she voluntarily left her position. The claims adjudicator allowed Smith's application for benefits, finding that she was discharged by her employer for reasons which did not involve misconduct connected with the work.

The CTA appealed the decision of the claims adjudicator, and an administrative hearing was held before a hearing referee. The CTA's appeal asserted that Smith was not available for work because she was a student. The notice of the hearing which was sent out by the referee indicated that the issues which would be addressed at the hearing included the voluntary leaving provisions set forth in section 601(A) of the Act and misconduct as contemplated by section 602 of the Act.

Smith and an Industrial Relations Representative for the CTA testified at the hearing. The employer's representative testified that Smith submitted a written resignation on September 30, 1992. When asked whether Smith could have continued to work for CTA beyond September 30, 1992, the CTA representative responded, "the program ends as of September 30th."

Smith testified that during her summer employment, she decided not to return to school for the 1992 fall term. She testified further that she and the other temporary employees received notice that they could submit written applications if they wanted to be hired as permanent employees. Smith stated that she informed the CTA during her summer employment that she would not be returning to school. She also inquired as to whether any positions would be available in the fall. In addition, Smith sent a letter to the CTA headquarters and to the CTA garage where she worked, stating that she wanted to return to work after September 30, 1992, as a permanent employee. Smith testified that she received no response to her letters.

Smith stated that she resigned on September 30, 1992, only because she was told that it was necessary in order to be considered for permanent employment. Smith said that if she could have continued to work as a permanent employee she would have done so.

The decision of the referee reversed the claims adjudicator's determination that Smith was eligible for benefits. The referee found that when Smith was hired, she told her employer that she would terminate her employment when she returned to school, on or before September 30, 1992. The referee determined that section 601(A) of the Act was applicable and concluded that Smith was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she voluntarily left her job without good cause attributable to her employer.

Smith appealed the referee's decision to the Board of Review. The Board determined that the case was governed by section 602(A) of the Act which provides that claimants are disqualified from receiving benefits under the Act if they have been discharged for misconduct connected with the work. The Board reversed the referee's decision, finding that Smith was discharged for reasons other than misconduct and, therefore, was not subject to the misconduct disqualification set forth in section 602(A) of the Act.

The CTA filed a complaint seeking administrative review of the Board's decision. The circuit court reversed the decision of the Board of Review, concluding that it was against the manifest weight of the evidence and contrary to law. The court held that when Smith agreed to the terms of the summer employment program, she represented to the CTA that she did not want to work beyond September 30, 1992. The circuit court ruled that Smith was disqualified from receiving benefits under section 601(A) because she voluntarily left her job. In so ruling, the court relied primarily upon the opinion in Calkins v. Board of Review (1986), 141 Ill. App. 3d 36, 489 N.E.2d 920, 95 Ill. Dec. 358. The Board of Review has ...


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