You should contact a labor and employment attorney in Chicago ASAP. There are probably several who will offer you a no-charge consultation. Typically, someone laid off is eligible to receive unemployment benefits however, there may be a particular reason you are being denied which is not evident from the facts you have presented. Or, an experienced attorney may be able to help you collect, if you should be collecting.
Answers to questions on this forum do not create an attorney-client relationship.
Where are you in the process: initial application, reconsideration, telephone hearing, appeal before the Board of Review, or appeal to the Circuit Court? This makes all the difference in the world.
Make sure you promptly read any notices or letters you receive from IDES. There are strict deadlines for appealing (from one stage to another) the denial or termination of benefits. Contact an attorney if you are denied or being terminated from benefits because of alleged quitting without just cause, insubordination, tardiness and absenteeism, misconduct, failure to actively seek work, or other failure to follow the program rules. The MOST IMPORTANT STAGE IS THE “TELEPHONE HEARING” before the Hearing Officer or Referee. This is where evidence is taken from you, the employer, and any witnesses and documents. All appeals beyond the “telephone hearing” are based on the evidence taken at the phone hearing. There is little opportunity to enter new evidence thereafter. Again, the deadlines are strict so seek assistance promptly. Even if you are initially granted benefits, your employer could appeal, so read your mail from IDES.
There are very few private attorneys and even fewer non-profit law offices who practice unemployment law. If you are modest income, contact the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago 312-341-1070.