Frustrations getting through to the unemployment office; Here's what you  need to know

Unemployment attorney Brian Stutheit has managed over 150 unemployment appeals hearings for clients from every part of Colorado.  He represents clients regarding eligibility for benefits, appeals of notices of determination, audits by the Division of Unemployment, and benefit overpayment claims. He has successfully represented clients in unemployment cases at the Colorado Court of Appeals.  Brian serves as a reference on unemployment benefit law for Colorado Public Radio.  

We Represent Both Employees and Employers

Unemployment Appeal Attorney Fees

If you hire us as your Colorado Springs unemployment lawyers, appeals are handled for a flat fee. For $1075 we take over the entire handling of your appeal and attend your appeal hearing. Hearings are by phone, and typically conducted on a speaker phone in our conference room. We write off any charges above that total.  For your fee, we include as many client meetings as necessary, prepare all filings with the Division of Unemployment Insurance, conduct prehearing investigation and witness preparation, obtain subpoenas to witnesses for testimony or for records, and act as your attorney and representative at your hearing. You will feel better with us on your side.

Some clients pay us for an initial evaluation and consultation. We may help word their appeals, tell them what they should do to prepare for their hearing, and give our advice what is good and bad in their case.  Then they feel prepared to represent themselves. The charge for this is $450. If you hire us after that preliminary consult to manage the entire appeal, the $450 is credited against our $1075 fee.

If you are an employer and are being audited, or are facing a claim that you should have paid unemployment taxes for your workers, we can help.  The time spent on audits is hard to predict, so we usually charge $300 per hour for such issues.

Get legal representation at the first appeal level, the hearing officer stage. The appeal hearing before the hearing officer is your only chance to present all your arguments, witnesses and evidence. You won’t get another opportunity. Before you appeal an unemployment determination, or respond to the appeal from the other side, you should speak with a lawyer. What you say in your appeal must represent your best arguments under the law. Careless statements written in your appeal will hurt you at the hearing. A hearing officer may refuse to consider  facts or arguments, not provided before your hearing, for the first time at the hearing.  During the hearing, evidence and requirements of proof are more like being in court than you might expect.  

We charge $1050 for appeals from hearing officer decisions to the industrial claims appeals panel. The appeals panel makes its decision on the basis of the evidence in the record from the hearing with a hearing officer. The panel will not hear new evidence or arguments which could have been raised during the appeal before the hearing officer, but were not brought up. The panel will consider cases where the hearing officer disregarded important evidence, or failed to allow a party to fully present their case. We have successfully challenged hearing officer rulings, but almost always successful challenges were in cases where we also handled the hearing, so we made and preserved the record for appeal.

Under many circumstances an employee who quits work may still qualify for benefits. But never assume that you will qualify for unemployment if you quit. Talk to a lawyer before you quit.

Talk to an experienced Colorado unemployment attorney before you write a letter explaining what happened, or sign anything prepared by your employer. These often backfire.  For example, one client wrote his supervisor to acknowledge he had made a mistake and explain the circumstances.  To the hearing officer, this was an admission the employee  was at fault.

If you are an employer and do not want to pay the former employee benefits, make sure your documentation supports denial of benefits before you terminate.  Most employers assume wrongly that just because they have the right to fire an employee, that means the employee does not get unemployment. The employee must have been “at fault”.  

Employers should all be familiar with Colorado Senate Bill 22-234, a 2022 law which governs employers who are terminating an employee. Colorado law now requires employers to provide the departing employee with a written notice of their termination that includes specific details including:

  • The employer’s name and address
  • The employee’s name and address
  • The employee’s company ID number or the last four digits of their SSN
  • The employee’s start date and end date
  • The employee’s year-to-date earnings and wages for their final week of work
  • The reason for the employee’s separation

A template for the written notice is available on the Colorado Department of Labor website. 

It is not the hearing officer’s role to explain the Colorado Employment Security Act, or tell you about cases interpreting the Act. If you are a claimant and the employer wins the appeal, your benefits will be stopped and you will likely be asked to repay benefits you already received.

The hearing officer’s decision is based only on evidence presented at the hearing. You must present and defend your position at hearing. You must know what facts are going to be important to the hearing officer based on the law, and without an unemployment attorney you will only be guessing.