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SHRM Supports Employer Representation by Non-Attorneys in Unemployment Compensation Hearings in Illinois Court Case 
 

3/31/2009   
 
 

SHRM Supports Employer Representation by Non-Attorneys in Unemployment Compensation Hearings in Illinois Court Case

Alexandria, Va. - On Friday, March 27, 2009, SHRM filed an amicus brief in the Illinois Appellate Court case Grafner v. Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES)

In the initial unemployment compensation hearing, the petitioner was represented by counsel and the employer was represented by a non-attorney.  When the petitioner’s unemployment compensation was denied, she challenged the decision arguing that since the employer was not represented by an attorney, the hearing was invalid.  The Illinois Bar Association supported the petitioner’s case by filing a separate brief arguing that an employer’s representation by a non-attorney in unemployment compensation hearings amounts to the unauthorized practice of law.

SHRM’s amicus brief argued that unemployment proceedings are not judicial proceedings and that the long-standing practice of non-lawyer representation of both parties in informal unemployment compensation proceedings should not be considered the unauthorized practice of law. 

SHRM made similar arguments in two cases decided by the Pennsylvania courts in 2007.  In the Pennsylvania cases (Piunti v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Harkness v. Unemployment Compensation Review Board) the courts ruled that non-attorneys may represent employers in unemployment compensation proceedings. 

The Illinois State Council for SHRM, along with the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center, Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, Association of Unemployment Tax Organizations, and UWC-Strategic Services on Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation joined SHRM’s amicus brief in the Grafner case.

SHRM’s amicus brief in the Grafner case is available HERE.