Unemployment law – appeal of hearing officer decision

Posted by: May 12, 2014By Brian Stutheit

Appeals from hearing officer decisions go to the Industrial Claims Appeals Office. Two members of the Industrial Claims Appeals Panel will review the hearing record. The Panel consists of Administrative Law Judges. The Panel does NOT hold hearings in the cases it considers. Their review is restricted to the evidence that was presented to the hearing officer who conducted the hearing. The Panel is not permitted to alter the hearing officer decision based on new evidence submitted on appeal. As the Panel said in one decision, “We may not reweigh the factual record and enter findings of our own.”  This is why it is important to present your best case to the hearing officer.

The Panel may affirm, correct, reverse or set aside the decision issued by the hearing officer. The Panel may also send the case back (remand the case) for a new hearing or new decision. We have had some success getting remands when the hearing officer ignored important evidence, or failed to resolve crucial conflicts in the evidence.

There is a form on the Colorado Department of Labor website entitled “Request for Appeal of Hearing Officer’s Decision”. You may use this form to file your appeal electronically. This starts the appeal process, but a party seeking to overturn the hearing officer decision must then submit written arguments, or briefs.  There is no particular format that must be followed when submitting a written argument. Many parties simply write a letter in which they outline the issues. If there are specific portions of the hearing recording that support your position, be sure to refer to them in your statement.

The Panel makes its decision based on review of the hearing, and briefs. An audio recording of the hearing is provided to the party appealing and the opposing party at not charge.

The law is that where evidence at the hearing is conflicting, the hearing officer is the sole person authorized to resolve the conflicts.  The Panel will not reverse the hearing officer on credibility or sufficiency of the evidence as long as there is evidence that supports the decision.  “We are bound by the hearing officer’s findings that are not contrary to the weight of the evidence.”  Clark v. Colorado State University.