At this point, I don't have a clue if YOU should, or can, win your first unemployment hearing. I do know from my past experience, many of you are tempted right now to write a damaging unemployment appeal letter.. and I really wish you would stop .. and even begin to understand what I mean, when I use the term .. self disqualifying.
But, I do know that even if you might of won the first hearing, if you had represented yourself better, second level appeals are not often going to get you a second chance for a do-over without a well written argument that explains how the hearing officer erred in his duties while conducting the first hearing and why those errors, or defects, led to an erroneous hearing decision.
If you are looking for a potential verbal argument for benefits at an appeal hearing, I suggest checking out any of the various discussions found in questions about quitting and getting fired, as that is where I focused most often on evaluating an ability to fulfill, or rebut a burden of proof.
And yes, we might complain about it, but even we non-attorney employees are expected to know and USE our rights to due process to protect ourselves while we try to convince a hearing officer that we did lose our job through no fault of our own .. the way UI law should see it.
Stories (testimony) told at a first level unemployment hearings are best when offered via first hand testimony (direct knowledge).
Direct knowledge of what happened, outweighs indirect, or hearsay testimony. Documentary evidence in support of direct testimony adds even more weight to direct testimony.
Good preparation is always done in advance. And therefore, you should know in advance of the first hearing you have the right to request postponements for good cause, or a continuance during a hearing.
You have the right to place objections on the record to testimony being given, or documents being submitted.
You have the right to call and even subpoena witnesses.
You have the right to cross examine witnesses appearing on behalf of your former employer.
Relevancy is of course crucial to preparing and the information you present at the hearing.
But unemployed people often let their feelings take center stage at a hearing and that can actually obscure perfectly legitimate arguments based on how unemployment law is supposed to work, and being emotional also allows you to be taken advantage of by an employer's hearing representative (the person presenting their case).
As one hearing rep I used to work with .. liked to say .. "When they're cryin', they're lyin"
I for one disagree with the blanket assessment .. but then you can be your own judge and decide for yourself .. what might make you cry at an unemployment hearing.
When it comes to winning unemployment appeals the ideal time is when your unemployment claim was just a twinkle in someone's eye.
In fact, the best time to start preparing to rebut a discharge, is the same time, you notice a case is probably being built against benefits.
Often enough, winning an unemployment hearing may be impossible if you were successfully encouraged to quit your job without any evidence of good cause cause being attributable to the work, or an employer. I've been told this is a secret employer strategy .. but I suspect, it's not purely employee ignorance that makes the strategy work well.
You should want to win the first unemployment hearing because winning a second level board of review appeal isn't actually a second chance to explain your story, but to explain why you quasi legally, deserve a second chance to have another first level hearing.
Board appeals aren't always difficult. Often used by employers for things, like asking for a reopening to show good cause for a witnesses non-appearance at the first hearing. I used to spend a great deal of time requesting postponements for employers just to protect this right to due process to improve the odds for another lower level hearing .. usually with an additional issue listed so the non-appearance could be addressed.
But, when both parties appear and a board appeal is to disagree with a hearing officer's decision .. you need a good written argument pointing out errors and defects made on the record by none other than the hearing officer who was mandated to conduct the first unemployment hearing fairly and impartially.
So, let me ask you, do you know when to object on the record? Do you know you can make a request during the hearing for continuance so you might obtain evidence you know of that would disprove what the employer is telling the hearing judge?
There's more to preparing to win the first hearing than spilling your guts at one .. you have to learn how to tell your story in a way not common to most of us. As if you knew what happens at administrative law hearings.
And if questions about unemployment appeals are any indication, most people wait until after the first hearing to finally take the time to figure out .. there may be an advantage for the state unemployment agency itself .. if you show up alone and clueless for the first hearing.
The reason I believe everyone, not just employers could benefit from being represented by someone who knows how unemployment hearings work is because they already know how to make use of some special rules of procedure for conducting a first level unemployment hearing fairly and impartially.
The rules, according to the ETA (Employment and Training Administration), responsible for providing all state agencies with directives and advisories as to how to run their individual unemployment programs must think rules most unemployed people don't know about should be enough to ensure every claimant not knowing the rules exist .. get a fair and impartial hearing.
When I am asked questions about how I would prepare to win, or what I would do to up the odds to not lose an unemployment appeal hearing, I say to start thinking about using rules of procedure to learn what you may have a right to do, or object to being done in that hearing .. which might then become a point of appeal to a board of review.
A letter to appeal a denial of benefits should not be the document that provides self disqualifying information for an employer, or the state, to explore.
In fact, it should be simple, simple, simple because all you need to do is signal your disagreement and request the only unemployment hearing you can reasonably expect to get.
There is absolutely no reason a claimant of benefits, disagreeing with an initial determination of benefits, clueless as to how the appeal process works, should spill their guts before they get to the referee, or first level tribunal unemployment hearing.
More About The First Unemployment Appeal