I was terminated on April 27th and immediately applied for and started receiving unemployment benefits. During that time, I traveled to Chile to do relief work in an earthquake struck region. I was planning on staying from May 19th to June 10th and ended up extending my time there until the 29th of June. When I returned, I got a letter from unemployment for a face to face interview. That was this Monday. They apparently had gotten an anonymous phone call stating that I was out of the country while on unemployment. This is supposedly a violation of Section 500C:
During the week, he is able to work, available for work and actively seeking work. (Section 500C and 56 Ill. Adm. Code
An individual is presumed to be unavailable for work if:
a. After his separation from his most recent work, he has moved to and remains in a locality where job opportunities for
him are substantially less favorable than those in the locality he has left. (Section 500C3)
b. His principal occupation is that of a student in attendance at, or on vacation from, a public or private school.
However, an individual enrolled in and attending a Department approved training course may, under specified conditions,
be considered available for work. Such an individual will not be required to seek work and will not be disqualified under
Section 603 for work refusal.(Sections 500C4 and 5)
I was not in the right to state that I was available for work while overseas and therefore, I am waiting upon a letter as to how much I have to pay back. Section 500C does not state what AVAILABLE means. If I had received a phone call or an email for an interview, I would have gladly returned. I was still applying online as if I was at home in the state of Illinois doing the same thing. What if I had been in Texas with a dying relative? Also, there is nothing that states that I have to be available for work in the US. Perhaps I was looking for a job in Chile or in South America? Or in Europe?
My question is: What kind of case do I have here to appeal this? I really do not want to pay back anything and I really don't want this to follow me in the state of Illinois. Any advice that someone can help me with would be greatly appreciated. Or, perhaps a lawyer I can speak with.