Board: Fired College of DuPage controller should get unemployment benefits

The Illinois Department of Employment Security Board of Review has affirmed an April ruling by an administrative law judge that a fired College of DuPage administrator is entitled to her unemployment benefits.

According to the board's ruling, dated July 29, the Glen Ellyn-based college failed to prove that Lynn Sapyta, its former assistant vice president for financial affairs and controller, committed any misconduct that led to her dismissal.

College officials did not immediately comment.

Sapyta was fired in September after five years with the state's largest community college by then-acting interim President Joseph Collins for what he said was a failure to protect the school's financial integrity.

The college challenged Sapyta's attempt to receive unemployment benefits by arguing she was terminated for misconduct.

Friday's ruling was the second this year in Sapyta's favor.

"The employer failed to provide sufficient evidence to support its position that the claimant was discharged for willful and deliberate misconduct connected with her work," the board wrote in its ruling.

The ruling went on to say the college provided no argument to support its claim. In fact, the two witnesses sent to testify on behalf of the college were not involved in Sapyta's firing.

"The vice president of human resources was not involved in the termination decision and had no firsthand knowledge of the events leading to the claimant's discharge," the ruling stated. "The employer's only other witness was the outside consultant hired to review and analyze the financial data of the college. This witness analyzed data and had no firsthand knowledge of the claimant, the claimant's specific conduct, motivation, or responsibilities."

In her April ruling, administrative appeals Judge Nancylee Burds wrote that Sapyta used best practices to perform her job. The review board agreed.

"(The appeal ruling) found that Lynn was 'discharged for reasons other than misconduct,'" said attorney Peter Lubin, who represents Sapyta. "This proves what we have always maintained, that Lynn was made into a scapegoat for alleged problems at COD which, for the most part, fell under the responsibility of former interim President Collins."

Sapyta and another fired COD administrator, Thomas Glaser, are suing former COD board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton and Collins, claiming both firings violated their constitutional rights of free speech and free association.

Glaser served as senior vice president of administration and treasurer

Both administrators campaigned against Hamilton supporters Deanne Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein in last year's COD board election. All three were elected.

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