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

Denver Unemployment Attorney Serving Clients Throughout Colorado

Unemployment Appeals, Audits and Overpayment Problems

Brian Stutheit is an Colorado unemployment lawyer who has represented clients in over 150 unemployment hearings. He serves as consultant regarding unemployment law for Colorado Public Radio. 

We also litigate unemployment matters before the Colorado Court of Appeals, the highest level which unemployment appeals can go.

 Jennifer R: “I researched attorneys for unemployment benefits dispute, and Mr. Stutheit’s name appeared as a top result. After reviewing his credentials, I hired him for my appeal. Boy am I glad I did. Mr. Stutheit was knowledgeable, patient, and communicative. He put my mind at ease and helped me win my appeal. It is also nice that he charges a flat fee. I would recommend hiring him.”

We represent both employers and employees. 

Almost all unemployment hearings are conducted by telephone.  This allows Stutheit & Gartland to represent clients located throughout Colorado, or even living  or operating their business outside of Colorado.  

Unemployment Appeal Attorney Fees

Call us to chat for free about whether your issue is one we can help you with.

We handle your appeal with a hearing officer for a flat fee. For $1100 we take over the entire handling of your appeal and attend your hearing with you. Unemployment appeals hearings are all conducted by telephone conference call. We usually attend the hearing with our client on a speaker phone from our conference room, but we can attend from anywhere because the hearings are conference calls. For your fee, we provide such services as, client meetings and helping clients prepare for their hearings,  preparation of filings with the Department of Labor, we conduct prehearing  investigations and witness preparation, we obtain subpoenas of witnesses or records, and act as your attorney at your hearing.

Some clients pay us simply for a consultation and coaching. As a part of that process we can help write their appeals, tell them what they should do to prepare for their hearing, describe what can be expected at the 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 $480. If you hire us after that preliminary consult to manage the entire appeal, the $480 is credited against our $1100 fee.

We charge $300 per hour for appeals of hearing officer decisions to the industrial claims appeals panel.  The appeals panel makes its decision on the basis of the evidence in the record previously submitted in the case, and the testimony taken by the hearing officer. The panel will not hear new evidence or arguments which could have been raised before the hearing officer, but were not.  So, the best time to get legal representation from an unemployment lawyer is at the hearing officer stage, where chances of success are highest. We always need to listen to the audio recording of the hearing which led to the appeal. If the hearing was relatively short, we can write, or defend against, an appeal inexpensively.  If the hearing was long, the fee can become expensive.

We charge by the hour for defense of unemployment audits of employers. Our rate is $300.

Why You Should Get Legal Representation at the First Appeal (Hearing Officer) Stage

It is not the hearing officer’s role to explain the Colorado Employment Security Act, which sets out Colorado unemployment law, 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 thoroughly before the hearing officer. You must know what facts are going to be important to the hearing officer based on the law. Without a lawyer your unemployment appeal could be flawed.

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. If you don’t have a lawyer for your hearing, you are endangering your claim and further appeals.

Before you appeal a determination from the Division or Unemployment, or respond to an appeal from the other side, you should have a lawyer.  You want your arguments and your appeal documents to prove the law and facts which are important according to the law.  Careless statements written in your appeal will hurt you at the hearing. New and different arguments cannot be introduced for the first time at the hearing. Evidence and requirements of proof in an appeals hearing are similar to being in court. The law for unemployment appeals hearings says the rules of evidence shall conform, to the extent practicable, with those in civil cases in the district courts of Colorado.

Other Suggestions:

Under many circumstances an employee who quits work can still qualify for benefits. But never assume that you will qualify for unemployment if you quit. The how and why you quit are crucial. Talk to a lawyer before you resign.

Talk to a lawyer before you write a letter explaining what happened at work, or apologizing. These often backfire. For example, one client wrote his supervisor to acknowledge he had made a mistake and ask for leniency. To the unemployment hearing officer, this was an admission the employee was at fault.

If you are an employer and do not want to pay the 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 will not get unemployment.

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.

You Must Prepare and Participate

File appeals and responses on time. Never assume the Division of Unemployment will eventually catch or correct its own harmful mistakes. Never fail to appeal because some Unemployment representative on a phone call told you problems would be fixed.

While your appeal is pending, keep claiming benefits.

Always follow the instructions from Unemployment to check in for your hearing on time, in advance.

You Must To Present Your Best Unemployment Case to the Hearing Officer.  Don’t expect that you can handle your own hearing, then start all over with an attorney on the next appeal.

Hire an experienced, well-known Colorado unemployment lawyer you can trust.