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The Burden of Proof to Collect, or Be Denied Unemployment Benefits

If we, as employees are to consider how, when, or why, we may be able to collect unemployment benefits correctly, it makes little sense, to me at least, when employees seem to willingly choose to ignore the burden of proof, since it provides the perspective from which the facts surrounding the cause for separation are judged, relevant to how unemployment law is supposed to work.

It's the specific issues of laws, that cause who is assigned the burden of proof and even a state must pay attention to this.. if it is to comply with the mandate to fairly and impartially determine when an unemployed person is eligible, or ineligible to receive, or keep unemployment benefits, especially after the first unemployment appeal hearing.

Many employers and/or their UI expert, (often a third party claim management company) know the various reason they can't afford to ignore the  burden of proving fault conceptually. 

I think not knowing who has to prove, or rebut fault, is comparable to not knowing where to look for the starting line.

Another reason not to ignore the burden, is just so you know that to prove fault, is to attribute fault to the non-moving party.

Knowing just this, can be a strategic advantage, in that you now start thinking strategically about what makes a merit, and how you might use it to argue more effectively to the quasi-legal issue at hand.  

One can usually find the merits, or  lack thereof, by disucssing the circumstances that led up to YOUR separation from a job and whether you quit your job, or were fired.

The possibility of winning, or losing, may also be tied to your ability to argue coherently about merits being valid points of unemployment law, and/or regulations controlling a state UI law.

In short .. I know people lose winnable appeal hearings. 

But unfortunately, it's often because they weren't prepared at the first UI hearing to prove why the fault was that of their employer before  they quit, or  why they were fired for something other than work related misconduct when they try to rebut fault.

The Burden of Proof During the Initial Unemployment Claim Determination Phase

An initial eligibility (non-monetary) claim determination in just about every state in this country begins with something along the lines of ...

Based upon the available information you have been determined to be eligible, (or ineligible) to receive unemployment benefits under (the section of law relevant to the issue of cause for separation).

The determination then goes on to explain details if the adjudicator has any, and then gives notice to the aggrieved party to the determination, how they can appeal a determination, (or in some states, there may be an additional step of  requesting a redetermination, or reconsideration before you appeal). 

The standard of basing a determination only on the available information, is in fact a low bar, that leaves room for initial benefit determinations to be made erroneous, if you or the employer  don't know how to respond, or just do so insufficiently or incompletely, by the end of the initial eligibility interview process.

However, when an initial determination is appealed, the burden of proof gets significantly stiffer, once the question (issue) of eligibility is moved up the unemployment process to a full fact finder hearing (lower level tribunal hearings).


The Burden of Proof at Unemployment Appeal Hearings

Whether you were awarded, or denied unemployment and whether the cause for separation was a voluntary quit, or discharge for misconduct, the  standard for proving, or rebutting is  to a preponderance of the testimony ..and/or evidence.

In that meeting or rebutting a burden is subject to more rules than a standard for proof, I would suggest to any self representing claimant, to at least attempt to google, just to find your state's rules of procedure for administrative law hearings.

You just never know if you might need to make an objection, on the recording of the hearing, just so you have created some valid point for appealing to a Board of Review to explain how the hearing officer erred procedurally on the record.

Referrals to Professional UI Hearing Reps?

How Not to Lose Your Unemployment Appeal Hearing .. You Might Otherwise Win

People often expect a definitive yes, or no from me .. but the more I learned about unemployment .. the more I knew just how rarely the answer is only yes .. or no. 

Of course I know why people avoid even  free explanatory unemployment resource links, however, if I can convince you try one, it's going to be about you meeting the burden of proof to convert your truth .. to the credible facts accepted as the truth after the lower level hearing.

I found the following ebook  years ago at the California EDD websdite while searching for information an employer had asked about.

It was free then and now.  It's downloadable.  And most of all, I recommend it as a quick read for anyone facing an unemployment hearing in a state other than California.

Also, not an irony, it's called ..  27 Ways to Avoid Losing Your Unemployment Appeal

Here's a sampling from the book. I think it puts the reasons to consider the burden of proof in unemployment insurance before one quits, or get fired out front .. right where it belongs.

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.

Source: Twenty Seven Ways to Avoid Losing Your Unemployment Appeal

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 is the concept you need to rebut. But, I can't tell you how many time I've talked to someone, only to hear them tell me what they told the initial claim adjudicator .. to question them further and see if there was a way to rehabilitate the story they originally told the department and ended with an initial denial.

Q&As about the Burden of Quitting a Job -  Employees are frequently too timid to take on as an employee, what they need to approach proving the burden of fault connected to and attributable to the work, or employer, in some way, even to a special voluntary quit provision that may create exceptions to lessen the burden of proving fault to a lesser degree.

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, standards and expectations of behavior, or not meeting the performance requirement an employer has a right to expect, and I'll tell you it may sound good enough, for me to think you maybe should get benefits.

But that still doesn't eliminate any questions I may have to ask you, how you think the employer will try to prove your guilt of misconduct.

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