Unemployment appeals – what everybody should know
Unemployment attorney Brian Stutheit
has learned some basic lessons from his cases which everyone in the claims system should know.
1. Claimants should always keep records. Print your weekly claims. If you speak to someone at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, get the person’s name and make a note what you discussed. Our clients often say, ” So and so told me to do this”, but they have no way to prove what they were told.
2. If you have a cool head, and are not too afraid of confrontations, you should attend your hearing in person. A good lawyer can help take away your fear by getting you prepared for your hearing, as we do. After the first ten minutes or so, your nerves will calm.
3. Get a lawyer for the first hearing with a hearing officer. Don’t wait. It is very hard to overturn a hearing officer’s decision at the next level of appeal.
4. Employers think being justified in firing someone also justifies denial of benefits. That is not true. Whether you were justified in firing someone is irrelevant for unemployment claims. Incompetent workers get unemployment benefits all the time. The test is whether the employee’s misconduct was “volitional”. A volitional act is one within the employee’s power or control. Insubordination is volitional behavior. Being a klutz is not.
5. Continue to file for benefits while your appeal is being processed. If you stop filing, the State will close your claim.
6. Be on time. File your appeal on time. File documents you wish to use at your appeal in advance of the hearing, or else the hearing officer may not let you use them. Give copies to your opponents at the same time you give them to the hearing officer.
7. If you leave town on a trip, make sure someone watches your mail. Do not let something bad happen to your benefits because you were not watching for communications from the Department of Labor.