Illinois Supreme Court to Rule on Teacher’s Use of Sick Leave over Summer Break/HLERK Authoring “Friend of Court” Brief for IASB/IASA

An Illinois appellate court ruled that a teacher was not entitled to 28.5 days of paid sick leave at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year after giving birth on the final day of the 2015-2016 school year. More specifically, Dynak, a full time teacher, notified the school district’s Superintendent in March 2016 that she was scheduled to have her child by caesarean section on June 6, 2016, which was the last full day of the 2015-2016 school year. In addition to informing the superintendent that she would be using 1.5 sick days at the end of the school year, the teacher also stated that she intended to take the first 28.5 days of the following school year as paid sick leave under Section 24-6 of the Illinois School Code. Her request was denied and she filed suit against the District that it violated Section 24-6 of the Illinois School Code.

The appellate court upheld the lower court’s ruling in favor of the District by deciding that a leave period comprises only work days, and “[i]f the leave period is interrupted by some sort of holiday or break period, then, depending on the length of the break versus that of the leave, allowing the employee to claim the remainder of the leave period immediately following the break could yield an absurd result.” This holding that the extra sick leave should not have been given because it “could yield an absurd result,” indicates how courts may analyze such an issue especially as it relates to a summer break. Courts likely will look to the reasonableness of the request being made and how long of a break period is involved to determine whether an employee should receive their full 30 days of sick leave under Section 24-6.

Dynak v. Board of Education of Wood Dale School District No. 7, 2019 IL App (2d) 180551.

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