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Unemployment Insurance Appeal Hearings and Meeting, or Rebutting a Burden of Proof 

Unemployment Insurance's  burden of proof, refers to the standard of law necessary to meet, or sustain why the non-moving party gave the moving party good cause to end an at-will employment relationship .. at a lower level unemployment appeal hearing.

This burden to prove, is correctly assigned to the party that literally, made the move that resulted in ending the employment relationship.  (e.g. a quit in lieu of being discharged should actually be adjudicated as a discharge for misconduct).

However, initial unemployment claim determinations  (the first call about your benefit eligibility) are based upon a lesser standard of law referred to as being based upon the available information.

Initial claim determinations are easy to appeal with a simple letter, by the aggrieved party, and the right to appeal is regardless, of which party may of been the moving party. 

Once an unemployment letter of appeal is submitted timely, your  goal should be to learn how to become as prepared as you possibly can, to either sustain the burden of good cause to quit, or rebut the employer's burden of cause being guilt of work misconduct, because the standard of law goes up a notch to a preponderance of the testimony and/or evidence presented at what is, a pivotal quasi-legal, unemployment proceeding.

There are Ways to Lose Unemployment Appeal Hearings .. Even When You Could of Won

The California EDD has a free downloadable resource I sincerely recommend for DIYers, or pro se unemployment claimants.  I think it advances understanding of what the burden to proof.. or rebutting facts, literally means when you get to a lower level hearing .. in any state.    

It's called ..  27 Ways to Avoid Losing Your Unemployment Appeal

Of course 27 ways can't possibly cover all the other reasons claimants lose hearings, 27 is enough to offer some good insight to why being objective to argue the law for yourself is something I think of as being a necessary attitude.


What is Good Evidence to Win an Unemployment Appeal?

What is good evidence for you to use?  I can't really say, but to generally address this important question,  good evidence is relevant to how you plan to prove, or rebut the burden of proof.  For example:  Did the claimant quit their job with good cause attributable to the employer ... or did they not give the employer an opportunity to help them fix a problem with the employment relationship?

If you didn't document your efforts to preserve your employment before you quit .. or counter document why a write-up was not fair, or in accordance with the employer's rules and policies found in an employee handbook .. winning on objective and individual case merits .. is much tougher to do.

Good evidence is something an employee should be thinking about before they become a claimant, as a piece of paper with relevant details on it, can add some much needed weight to your own testimony at a hearing.  Or you might need to use it to rebut why the employer's direct witness (direct meaning they have first hand knowledge about the cause of your separation) .. isn't entirely accurate .. or complete.

Effective documentation is created before a separation occurs and with an eye on how it might play at an unemployment hearing to meet, or rebut the burden for the cause of separation, or even a monetary issue.  

I would enjoy more opportunities to provide my service of coaching employees on how to create more effective documentation .. that gets to the necessary point found in an issue about unemployment eligibility..

When to Prove and What to Rebut

If you were the employee fired from your job, understand the unemployment department expects you already know it's the employer that must prove they had good cause for terminating you .. because who applies for unemployment .. without first understanding how unemployment law works.  Good if fired from a job means the burden to be proven is .. work related misconductPlease don't rebut this burden in such a way that you end up aiding abetting, or offering an untenable piece of information that literally proves the the employer's burden.

When you quit a job, you're the one who must prove the reason you quit was with good cause.  Good in this instance means to prove the fault for you deciding to quit, was your employer's.  The question though .. is how do you prove good cause .. if you don't know what's expected of employees to have a better shot at  proving fault as being attributable to the work, or employer.

If you're not the party assigned the burden of proving fault, it doesn't mean you don't have anything  to prove, but now they call an appeal argument .. a rebuttal of the burden your opponent must meet, or sustain, if initially met  at the claim level.. when both you and your employer are in attendance at a lower level unemployment appeal hearing.

If you quit in lieu of being fired.  Aside from the fact I know there is valid strategies for an employerto avoiding the burden to prove misconduct,  in lieu of,  is what strongly suggests to me,  no alternative was left for the employee but to voluntarily quit their job .. and possibly .. because they were in fact, fired for some reason the employer knew was weak on proof .. to prove misconduct.  Imagine this scenario, if you will, as a strategy to potentially obtain the best proof possible to deny benefits after someone quit in lieu of being discharged .. for no good reason, a resignation letter .. that mentions nothing about the underlying circumstances for that letter.  

If you quit a job in anticipation of being fired, the burden will generally be assigned to you the claimant, because the word anticipation suggests, the employer was, at least on paper, still apparently giving you time and opportunity to correct some deficit in your performance as an employee .. On paper, I mean likely via documented written warnings, or PIPs (performance improvement plans).

If you were laid off, the natural assumption is your were discharged from your job also, but since laid off is a different way to say being fired for a lack of work, ethical employers simply admit fault when they respond to the notice of a claim filed, which is sent to them by the unemployment department.  But I'll warn you now, it was not for employer to respond to a lack of work claim to leave their options open

In other words, I wouldn't fall off my chair, if I read your employer's claim response and it said ... "claimant's position was eliminated, but also refused an offer of continuing suitable work.. which is another non-monetary issue.

No matter what your issue is, or who has the burden to prove fault, preparation for an unemployment hearing is basically, your  last shot to focus on all that is relevant to winning, or keeping your benefits.

If you don't believe this .. you may want to read more of my thoughts on appealing a hearing decision to an unemployment insurance board of review.


There's close to 4,000 Unemployment Q&As.   I think I've consistently tried to explain to improve your chances of collecting unemployment benefits there is a necessity to orient any appeal argument to the burden specific to the issues listed on hearing notices. 

However, proving facts can be a challenge for the best employees and yes, sometimes employers who may rely more on what you don't know about the process, than assume you do know about it.

California's Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board has a free ebook entitled    Twenty Seven Ways to Avoid Losing Your Unemployment Appeal

Of course there's a lot of other state and federal resources found on the free resource page.   But I like 27 Ways because it addresses what claimants of benefits often miss  .. quasi-legally speaking.

Source: Twenty Seven Ways to Avoid Losing Your Unemployment Appeal

Parties to appeals, particularly claimants, often focus their attention only on the separation (discharge or voluntary quit) issue and overlook such additional issues as: alleged false statements, overpayments, availability or claim filing requirements. 

"You may be astonished to hear what the other side has to say when they get before an ALJ. If you approach preparation of the case as if it were your own appeal, you will be better prepared to meet whatever contentions the other side raises."

Parties to appeals often misconceive the issues. For some unknown reason, the claimant who has been disqualified for quitting without good cause spends time and energy producing such things as favorable performance reports to prove he or she was a good worker or, in a case of a discharge for alleged misconduct, comes to the hearing with a long list of complaints about the employing company and job conditions.

Not focusing on the actual burdens attached to the issues on a hearing notice can be a grave mistake,  very difficult to impossible to undo, with what isn't a second chance appeal, or a second level appeal to the higher authority Unemployment Insurance Board of Review.

Articles  and Q&A Related to Unemployment's Burden of Proof

Working on the Burden While You're Still an Employee  - It surprises many to hear what I know caused their inability  to prove good cause to quit, or lack of any if they end up fired.  It's frequently nothing more than what they didn't choose to do save and preserve their job .. while they still had a job.

What is the Burden of Misconduct to Fire an Employee - The fortunate thing about the burden of proof for an employer, is that work misconduct has been condensed into a definition by a court decision dating back to 1941.   It's been adopted, all, or in part, by many other states over the years and can  help even an employee who got fired, understand what misconduct is .. and what it isn't.

Q&As about the Burden of Quitting a JobAlthough the burden of proving fault is supposed to be connected to and attributable to the work, or employer, some state unemployment laws also special provisions that create exceptions to this rule when/if certain conditions are met .. but the point is those who quit, even for a reason covered by a special provision to create an exception to the rule, must meet some conditions to prove they still had good cause to quit.

Q&As about Rebutting the Burden of Misconduct -  Tell me a story that explains, or just claims, why you don't think you're guilty of breaking employers rules and standards and expectations of behavior and or performance an employer has a right to expect, may be good enough for me, but I'm still going to ask you questions relevant now to whether you possess the ability to rebut why the employer can't prove your guilt.

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