Prepare For The First Unemployment Appeal 

If it were as easy to win the first unemployment appeal hearing as just telling the truth about why you quit your job with good cause, or were fired for something other than misconduct, then there would be a lot less people being denied unemployment benefits after the first, or lower level appeal hearing.



The intended function of the first appeal, is to be the last one needed.  

At this hearing the person conducting it is mandated to fully explore the facts of a case, issue a fair and impartial decision based upon the testimony and evidence presented and the whole proceeding becomes the "record".  The record is the context for any 2nd level appeal made to a board of review.

A lower level appeal authority of an unemployment administrative law agency is often called a tribunal. 

An estimated thirty-five percent of claimants lose  first level tribunal unemployment hearing despite having merits that are arguably, winning merits

I know at least one of the reasons claimants lose what could be a winner, is because many of you, focus your arguments on the wrong thing.

Namely, how you feel about it and emotions tend to clutter the "issue".

It's not how you, or someone else feels about how you lost your job that's going to be the reason you win .. at least it's not supposed to be.

It's how you present facts and supporting evidence in an objective style that implies you have understanding of the law and how it could/should be applied to the facts, not to mention everything else you are allowed to do while presenting your case during the first hearing to guard your rights to due process.

The total package is called "your argument".

The Last Chance to Tell Your Unemployment Appeal Story

At an unemployment appeal hearing it's not just the story you tell of how you lost your job that can be important, but how you tell it.  Keep the focus of your story on proving, or rebutting a burden offensively and with quasi-legal objectivity .. instead of the typical defensive emotional stance of the desperation many an unemployed person lost because of.

Do you have relevant evidence to prove a relevant point that will help you win?

To leave what may, or may not be relevant in your mind, out of this for now, you want your story to be found as the most credible story told at the first level unemployment hearing by the hearing officer, referee, commissioner, or administrative law judge (ALJ) Don't forget this person conducting the hearing is mandated to apply the unemployment laws of the liable state that controls the claim to all the testimony and evidence submitted into the record of the first hearing.

Written documentation and/or other types of exhibits are brought to life by first hand (direct) testimony.  The evidence returns the favor and adds the weight of credibility to your story.  The standard of law used at unemployment administrative law hearings is called a preponderance.  Why wouldn't you want to help them .. believe your story.

Read more tips  about being prepared in the Unemployment Appeal FAQ's


Direct knowledge, or hearsay testimony?

Direct knowledge of the final incident and related and leading up to it that preceded hearsay testimony which may be procedurally allowed by specific state rules, or regs, but hearsay may also be a good reason to place an objection on the record as a potential point of appeal to a board of review in case a hearing officer uses third hand knowledge to support the conclusion of their decision.

Documentary evidence in support of direct testimony is the ideal as it is supposed to procedurally, add weight to the story being told via testimony. 


Solid preparation before you tell your unemployment story at a first level hearing.

There's  a couple strategies you might want to use in advance of the first hearing that can have the affect of protecting  a due process right.  

Both you and your employer receive the same hearing instructions.  Those instructions .. regardless of which state, tell you about a right to request a postponement.  Of course good cause for a postponement may vary by state .. as well as the ease of actually being allowed a delay of the proceeding but when you attend a hearing unprepared it's like waiving a right to be prepared. 

Good Cause for a postponement may be as simple as having a job interview at the same time as the hearing, or needing time to find someone to represent your best interests at a hearing.

Why You Want to Avoid Appealing Hearing Decisions to an Unemployment Board of Review

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.

Rules and Procedures for Conducting an Unemployment Appeal 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.


The Letter to Appeal a Denial of Unemployment Benefits

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.

Here's a Sample Appeal for a Denial of Unemployment Benefits


More About The First Unemployment Appeal

The Primary Focus of All Appeal Hearings

A Sample Letter to Appeal a Denial of Unemployment

Appeal Hearing  Q&As

Referrals to UI Hearing Representation

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