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First Amendment Library:
Robert J. Ruiz


The Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act provides that "[a]n individual shall be ineligible for benefits if he has failed, without good cause, either to apply for available, suitable work when so directed . . . or to accept suitable work when offered him . . . ." Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 48, ¶ 433 (1986). In April 1984, William Frazee refused a temporary retail position offered him by Kelly Services because the job would have required him to work on Sunday. Frazee told Kelly that, as a Christian, he could not work on "the Lord's day." Frazee then applied to the Illinois Department of Employment Security for unemployment benefits claiming that there was good cause for his refusal to work on Sunday. His application was denied. Frazee appealed the denial of benefits to the Department of Employment Security's Board of Review, which also denied his claim. The Board of Review stated: "When a refusal of work is based on religious convictions, the refusal must be based upon some tenets or dogma accepted by the individual of some church, sect, or denomination, and such a refusal based solely on an individual's personal belief is personal and noncompelling and does not render the work unsuitable." *831 App. 18-19. The Board of Review concluded that Frazee had refused an offer of suitable work without good cause. The Circuit Court of the Tenth Judicial Circuit of Illinois, Peoria County, affirmed, finding that the agency's decision was "not contrary to law nor against the manifest weight of the evidence," thereby rejecting Frazee's claim based on the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Id., at 23.