Common Unemployment Appeal Questions Answered
- The appeal hearing is too soon. Can I get a continuance? You can typically get one delay for a good reason, such as that you are searching for an attorney, or have found an attorney who is busy on the date the hearing is set.
- Will they let me appear in person for the hearing? Highly unlikely. The hearing officers are often working from their own homes. 99% of hearings are by telephone conference.
- How do I address a hearing officer? Respectfully. Say “Mr., Ms., or Hearing Officer Jones”. The hearing officers are not called “judge” or “your honor”.
- Who are hearing officers? Attorneys by training who effectively function as administrative law judges. In our experience through hundreds of appeals, they almost never show bias toward the employer or the employee. They do not favor the Division of Unemployment over a claimant or an employer. A few can be curt, or impatient. Be ready to be polite, but persistent. The hearings are recorded. You are making a record which you may need later.
- What will help me win an appeal? Put yourself in the shoes of the hearing officer. They do not know the parties. How are they going to decide whom to believe? Give them documents which support you. This is not only contracts or letters, but also texts, emails, meeting minutes, job descriptions, complaints about performance or job conditions. Anything which makes it easier for a hearing officer to believe your story. Also use witnesses. People who have nothing to gain from their testimony help tip credibility to your side. A witness need not be disclosed ahead of the hearing. Your witness should be available on a good phone line so he or she can be contacted once the hearing begins.
- Will my attorney do all the talking? No. Hearings are question and answer, similar to court. Hearing officers almost always ask the most questions, and they are not asking the mouthpiece, they are asking the witness.
- Are there things I should be sure to do? Yes. Among the things you must do are: a) file your appeal on time; b) check in for the hearing as instructed in the notice of hearing; c) if you intend to use documents, get them to the hearing officer ahead of time. We recommend 48 hours ahead. You must also give copies to your opponent. Be ready to prove that you provided the documents to the hearing officer and opponent.; d) prep your witnesses – an unprepared witness is a dangerous witness; e) be ready to answer the questions which hearing officers always ask: what were the dates of employment? what was the last wage? was the claimant laid off, terminated or did she resign? do you have witnesses and what are their phone numbers? ( A party to an appeal is entitled to ask that witnesses not listen to the hearing before it is their time to testify. Lawyers call this “sequestering witnesses”).