Colorado Unemployment appeals hearings process

Posted by: Dec 19, 2015By Brian Stutheit

Here is practical advice about

Colorado unemployment hearings

Should I appear in person, or by phone?

The Unemployment Insurance Appeals Section hearing officers often say it does not matter to them if you appear in person or on the phone.  If you are calm and present yourself well,  it is better to appear in person.  If you will be referring to several exhibits, it is better to appear in person.  Hearing officers sometimes get frustrated when they are asked by a person who is on the phone to look at a document, and the hearing officer has trouble figuring out which document is being referenced.  On the other hand, a person who cannot handle face to face confrontation may be better off appearing by phone.  Employers using services to fight unemployment claims, such as Equifax, Talx and Employers Edge almost always appear by phone.  An employee who appears against them is often better off being personally present.  Employers represented by Mountain States Employers Council almost always appear in person.  Stutheit & Gartland charges $150 more to appear in person rather than by phone.  This is due to travel time.  Unemployment hearings in the Colorado Springs office are only done over the phone.

Should I represent myself at the hearing?

Many employees and employers successfully handle their own hearings.  We have clients who hire us for an hour or so of instruction, then feel fully capable of doing what is necessary.  Hearings are more like court than most people expect, and hearing officers are lawyers, so if your case is complicated by the need to get documents or witness testimony admitted into evidence, it is a good idea to have a lawyer.  We cannot stress enough that the appeals hearing with a hearing officer is the most important stage of an unemployment benefits dispute.  You will not get a second chance to introduce new evidence after the hearing officer decision.  If you are trying to decide whether to do the hearing on your own, the following video created by Colorado Legal Services might help.

How will the hearing officer treat the  deputy’s decision granting or denying benefits?

Essentially, the deputy’s decision will not matter at all.  Appeals hearings are de novo, meaning the hearing officer only considers the evidence he or she receives at the hearing.  However, the deputy’s decision does set out the issue which is to be appealed.  A hearing officer will not consider any eligibility issue not raised before the hearing begins.