Does Restoration Of Seniority Of A Claimant Establish That His Contract Of Employment Which Began In One State Continues In Another State ?

In Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Industrial Comm'n, 79 Ill. 2d 425, 404 N.E.2d 253, 38 Ill. Dec. 829 (1980), an employee was hired to work in Youngstown's South Chicago, Illinois coke plant. The employee worked at that job for several years. The employer then notified the employee and his union of its intention to close the South Chicago facility, which it did shortly thereafter. After the employee's last day of employment, the employee immediately applied for work with other employers. Also at that time, the employee sought unemployment benefits. After three months without a job, the employee became aware of a job possibility at Youngstown's Gary, Indiana, plant. He applied, was interviewed, and subsequently was hired at the Indiana facility. The job for which he was hired was not the same job he had previously held in Illinois. 79 Ill. 2d at 427. However, after completing a probationary period, the employee was converted to permanent status. Under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement with the employee's union, he was given credit toward his seniority equal to the time he had been employed at the South Chicago plant. The employee was injured twelve years later while working at the Indiana plant and sought compensation under the Illinois Act. Our supreme court in Youngstown determined that the claimant was not entitled to compensation under the Illinois Act. But in so doing, the court focused exclusively upon the question of situs of the contract for hire. The court determined that the claimant's contract of employment made in Illinois terminated when the claimant's employment at the South Chicago plant ended, and a completely new contract of hire was established when the claimant began working in Indiana. 79 Ill. 2d at 432. The court noted that the claimant's employment with Youngstown ended when the South Chicago plant closed. The claimant was informed at the time of the plant closing that his employment was terminated, and the claimant's actions in seeking new employment confirmed his understanding that his employment contract with Youngstown had ended. 79 Ill. 2d at 431. The court rejected the claimant's argument that the restoration of his seniority rights pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement was sufficient to establish that his contract of employment, which began in Illinois, continued to cover his employment in Indiana. 79 Ill. 2d at 433.