What Should Happen at 
Unemployment Hearings

What is suppose to happen  is best explained by using an alternate description for tribunal unemployment hearings.

The  Full Fact Finder.

Tribunal hearings are intended to fully explore the facts leading to and  surrounding  the FINAL INCIDENT which caused one  party to make the  move to accept the burden of proving just cause to end the employment relationship.

Nobody knows better than you do, what happened .. right?

But, do you know how to make a persuasive argument with the facts you have at this moment?

You're doing a job when representing yourself.     Lead .. compel ..  the hearing officer to conclude,   through a preponderance of testimony and evidence, or purely by telling the most credible  sounding story, that the fault for the separation lies with the employer .. not you.

Sounds easy now .. for those who know  the fault doesn't rest with themselves, but you still need to prepare to persuade..

As stressed as you might be about winning an unemployment appeal hearing .. it is not a place, or time to let  emotions such as anger, or self doubt,  rule over your PLAN to represent yourself pro se at a quasi-administrative law proceeding.

So, when I tell you it's time to think like a lawyer ..  all I really mean is you need to identify and focus on an argument that proves the legal issue(s) listed on a hearing notice.

And on a more cynical note, understand that what you don't say at a hearing, may serve you as your testimony about the  truth if what happened to cause the separation..

Let's start with some things I know to be  fact.

Unemployment hearings are conducted much like a  mini trial and most frequently, by phone in this United states.

And .. semantics matter.    If you're going to go to the trouble of appealing, or attending a hearing when an employer  appeals,   put the emotional baggage which often raises an impulse to second guess yourself which often comes out sounding like you're admitting fault.

Both you, and your employer will have the right to ..

  • Offer first hand testimony
  • Call witnesses
  • Submit evidence
  • Cross examine  witnesses
  • Make objections
  • Make requests 

And all on the record.   Plus, you need to pay attention to the fact that even the responses and questions posed by the hearing officer, are also part of the record.

In case you haven't notice,  I think the RECORD is important..

 After all, any further appeal will  likely need to  be based upon it ..

Here's a few examples of how a  state might first inform you of important  rights you possess with regard to creating a record .. at first level unemployment  hearings.

  • Oregon -  Hearings are informal.  You can, but do not have to, obtain legal representation.  We can make special arrangements if you are hearing-impaired or need a special accommodation.  If you disagree with the hearings decision,you can appeal it to the Employment Appeals Board.  Follow the instructions for requesting a review which are included with the hearing decision.  The Employment Appeals Board reviews only the recording and the documents from the hearing.  They mail a decision to you and your employer after they complete their review.  If you disagree with this decision, you can appeal it to the Oregon Court of Appeals and further appellate courts.
  • Illinois -  Can someone help me?   The hearing process is designed for the parties without a representative. The Referee is charged with conducting a fair and impartial hearing and it is his/her responsibility to protect the rights of all parties. However, you have the right to have a representative of your choice to help you at the hearing. Your representative can be an attorney or any other individual you choose.  
  • New York - Do I need a lawyer?  No, but you have the right to be represented by an attorney or representative of your choice. An attorney or representative of a claimant cannot charge a fee unless the claimant is successful and the amount of the fee has been approved by the Appeal Board.
  • Florida -  SHOULD I HIRE AN ATTORNEY?   Professional representation is not required and most people represent themselves at unemployment hearings. You have the right to be represented by an attorney or authorized representative at your own expense. Fees for representing a claimant must be approved by the appeals referee, but paid by the claimant. 

You can let me know how the fair and impartial hearing worked out for you, but then, we'd be talking about your chances and merits for  getting  a board of review to agree the hearing officer made errors .. found somewhere in the RECORD.

Preparation for an unemployment hearing is as individual as the facts that led to quitting, or getting fired .. and even if good cause exists for a moving party,  . proving it at an appeal hearing sometimes  will just come down to the quality of the most persuasive argument and wise use of procedural rights to due process .. that  ultimately falls on you to protect in the event you need to appeal further..

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