1. Fill out your forms and make at least 4 copies.
Complete the following two forms:
- Complaint for Administrative Review. Here is a general sample complaint, and here is a complaint for Cook County. Include the following in the Complaint:
- List all necessary parties as defendants or else the case may be dismissed. Necessary parties include the director of IDES and the Board of Review, as well as all "parties of record." You should always name your employer as a defendant in the ARA.
- Describe the decision made by the IDES Board that you want the judge to review.
- Ask IDES to file a transcript from the other appeals.
- Summons: A notice to a defendant that a lawsuit against him or her has been filed in court and that the defendant has to appear in court. The defendants typically have 30 days to file an appearance.
2. File your forms.
Do this at the circuit court clerk in the county where you live. This is time sensitive: Do this within 35 calendar days after the mailing date of the date the Board of Review’s decision. If the 35th day falls on a day when the court is closed (Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays), you can file your appeal on the next day that the court is open.
File the following forms with the circuit clerk’s office:
3. Pay the court filing fee or apply for a fee waiver.
There is a fee to file most forms. The cost depends on the type of case you have and the county where you are filing. Contact your local circuit clerk's office for information on the fees.
If you do not have money to pay court fees, use the Application for Waiver of Court Fees program.
Note: The court will review your Application for Waiver of Court Fees and decide whether you have to pay the court fees. This might happen while you wait, or it could take as much as a week or two. You can ask the circuit clerk how long it usually takes. Nevertheless, your forms are considered filed on the date they're presented with the Application for Waiver of Court Fees.
4. Ask the circuit clerk to stamp and keep the original complaint.
When you file your forms with the clerk they become part of the case. The clerk will stamp your forms. This stamp is important because it's proof that you filed the form with the court.
- E-filing: The documents you want to file with the court have to be uploaded into the system. You will need to create an account. See E-filing Basics for details.
- Paper filing: If you are paper filing bring the forms to the clerk at the courthouse in the county where you are filing. Bring all your copies and the originals with you when you file. Ask the clerk to stamp all your forms. They will keep the original. Keep at least one copy for your records. See courthouse locations.
How you will find out about the court date (or hearing date) and time depends on how you filed your case.
- E-filing: The website you used to electronically file may let you pick your court date (or hearing date) and time. If it does not, contact the clerk.
- Paper filing: If you filed in person at the courthouse, the clerk will let you pick or they may pick for you.
5. Send the Summons and a copy of the Complaint by certified or registered mail.
6. The defendants will file an Appearance or Answer, or not.
Keep an eye on the mail. If the defendants want to participate, they will file an Appearance or Answer and mail you a copy. It is very important that you read these documents carefully.
If the defendants don’t want to participate and do not file an Appearance or Answer, you can file a Motion for a Default Judgment. A default judgment is a judgment in favor of the plaintiff when the defendant does not defend their case.
7. Attend the court date.
Arrive early and dress like you would for a job interview. This court date will probably be the first of a few. The first court date is called a “status hearing.” At this first hearing, the judge may set a “briefing schedule.” A briefing schedule is a series of due dates for different documents such as the following:
- Memorandum of Law in Support of Complaint: this is where you discuss your argument in detail.
- Response Brief: the defendants may or may not file a Response Brief to respond to your Memorandum.
- Reply Brief: if you want, you can file a Reply Brief to reply to the defendants’ Response Brief.
At one of the court dates, you may be required to make an oral argument. This is your opportunity to argue to the judge why the Board of Review made a mistake. The judge may also ask you questions about your argument.
What happens if I lose?
If you lose the ARA in the circuit court, you can appeal. To appeal, you must file a Notice of Appeal in circuit court no later than 30 days from the date of the final order. See Civil appeals guide for more information on this process.
I won! What happens now?
If you won your ARA, the case would be sent back to IDES. IDES will then make a decision that is consistent with the circuit court judges.
You can get unemployment benefits going forward. You can also collect retroactive benefits. Retroactive benefits are past benefits you should have received from the time you first applied and were eligible.
Keep an eye on the mail, though. Your former employer or IDES may still appeal to a higher court. If they do, you might have to write a letter describing why the circuit court's decision was correct and should be upheld.
Updated: March 2018