Unemployment Appeals – 5 considerations

Posted by: Oct 05, 2016By Brian Stutheit

In most unemployment appeals, these 5 things will need to be considered:

1. Is it worth it to participate?  If you are an employee who has been receiving benefits and your former employer appealed, you should be aware that you could be required to repay your benefits if you lose the appeal.  If you are an employee with limited benefits, the appeal may be less worthwhile. Small employers who almost never have unemployment claims may not see significant increases in the unemployment tax they pay, if they lose a single claim.

2.    Can I get a continuance to be better prepared?  The Division of  Unemployment          Appeals will typically give each side one continuance. Don’t ask too early before the scheduled hearing, or the Division will question the need for a delay.  Don’t ask too late, unless it is unavoidable, because the Division will ask why you waited so long.

3.    Should I subpoena witnesses?  We at Stutheit & Gartland have handled over 150 appeals hearings.  Almost never do we subpoena witnesses still employed, to try to force them to testify for a former employee.  People still working must have real courage to tell the truth in an appeal hearing with the boss listening.  Do you want to cause them discomfort, or even harm?  Can you be certain they will not testify under subpoena in the way they are instructed?  We believe the best practice is to try to speak to witnesses informally first, to see how much help they can be and how willing they are.  Former employees on the other hand are less constrained.  In unemployment appeals, subpoenas must be issued by the hearings officer.  A party who wants a subpoena should make a request right away, upon learning of the date of the hearing, so there is time to get the subpoena and serve it on the other side.

4.   What will this cost?  You can participate in an appeals hearing at no cost.  Professional process servers charge approximately $65 to serve subpoenas, but anyone who is not involved in the case, such as a friend, may serve the subpoena.  Attorney fees vary widely in Colorado.  When speaking to an attorney about representation, understand clearly what will be done by that attorney  Hourly fee arrangements can be dangerous, because it is impossible to predict how long a hearing might last.  Not infrequently, the hearing officers schedule an hour for a hearing.  If the hearing is not finished in an hour, they ask you to come back at another date.  We at Stutheit & Gartland believe that a flat fee is the fairest arrangement for clients, because they know exactly what representation will cost.

5.  What records or documents should I use?  Obviously, this depends on the particular circumstances.  We always ask clients if they have pertinent job descriptions, employment contracts, job offers, performance reviews, termination or resignation papers, text messages, letters or emails about problems on the job, and employer policies for attendance, discipline, performance standards, etc.