By the Hand Club for Kids, NFP, Inc. v. Department of Employment Security


2020 IL App (1st) 181768 THIRD DIVISION December 30, 2020 No. 1-18-1768 _____________________________________________________________________________ IN THE APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT ______________________________________________________________________________ BY THE HAND CLUB FOR KIDS, NFP, INC., ) ) Plaintiff-Appellee, ) ) v. ) ) Appeal from THE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, THE ) the Circuit Court DIRECTOR OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, THE BOARD OF ) of Cook County REVIEW OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, ) and KIM E. WIMBERLY, ) 2017-L-050886 ) ) Honorable Defendants ) James M. McGing, ) Judge Presiding ) (The Department of Employment Security, the Director of ) Employment Security, and the Board of Review of the Department of ) Employment Security, Defendants-Appellants). ) JUSTICE McBRIDE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Ellis concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Cobbs dissented, with opinion. OPINION ¶1 The Department of Employment Security, its director, and its Board of Review (Board), which we will refer to collectively as IDES, appeal from a circuit court judgment reversing the Board’s determination that By The Hand Club for Kids, NFP (By The Hand) is not exempt from the Unemployment Insurance Act (Act) (820 ILCS 405/100 et seq. (West 2016)). By The Hand, 1-18-1768 which is separately incorporated from Moody Church, operates a nonprofit afterschool program in Chicago. The dispositive issue is whether By The Hand demonstrated to the Board that it is an organization “operated primarily for religious purposes” within the meaning of the exemption stated in section 211.3(A)(2) of the Act. 820 ILCS 405/211.3(A)(2) (West 2016). It is undisputed that By The Hand meets the two other requirements for exemption in that it is “not an institution of higher education” and that it is “operated, supervised, controlled or principally supported by a church.” 820 ILCS 405/211.3(A)(2) (West 2016). ¶2 Kim E. Wimberly was By The Hand’s human resources director and volunteer coordinator between 2015 to 2016, earning approximately $32,000 per year. Wimberly subsequently filed for unemployment compensation. By The Hand opposed the claim, contending she was ineligible for benefits because By The Hand was exempted by the statute that is cited above and because she left her job voluntarily. After an IDES local office determined that Wimberly’s employment was “insured work,” however, By The Hand appealed, and the question of its statutory obligation proceeded to a hearing. ¶3 The hearing officer heard testimony from Julie Heth, By The Hand’s director of human resources and volunteer development; Marc Kole, By The Hand’s senior director of finance, and Tom Sawyer, By The Hand’s principal officer and board chair. Sawyer also held positions with Moody Church, as the vice chair of the church’s board of trustees and as the vice chair of the church’s board of elders, which is Moody Church’s governing body. Donnita Travis, a long-term member of the church and the founder and executive director of By The Hand, could not attend the hearing but submitted an affidavit. The testimony, sworn statement, and other documents established the following. -2- 1-18-1768 ¶4 The afterschool …

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