Many people read the literature sent out from the Unemployment office, which tells you that you don't need to have an attorney with you at an Appeals Hearing. It also informs you that if your benefits are denied after the Appeals Hearing, you will have other opportunities to appeal. I get a lot of calls from people who didn't hire an experienced lawyer for their Hearing because they think that there are two other chances to appeal. While it's true that you have the opportunity to appeal again if necessary, the Appeals Hearing before the Referee is your only opportunity to present evidence and testify.
The Appeals Hearing before the Referee is like a trial court, and it is conducted like a mini-trial. Many people are shocked when they go into the Appeal unrepresented and find that they are unprepared. Most employers will have an attorney or an agent there to represent them. Do you really want to represent yourself against the employer's attorney?
At the Appeals Hearing you create the record, which is the basis for any further appeals. The record consists of your testimony, the employer's testimony, and any evidence submitted during the hearing. Every Appeals Hearing is recorded by the Referee.
If the Referee rules against you, you may file an Appeal to the Board of Review. However, the Board of Review makes its decision based on the tape that is created at the Appeals Hearing. You don't get a second chance to testify or cross examine the employer. You also generally cannot submit evidence that wasn't submitted at the Appeals Hearing. Many times we win a case because, much like at trial, there is a body of law established by prior decisions that provides the legal basis that cases are decided on. With each subsequent appeal, the standard that needs to be met in order to overturn the Referee's decision becomes more difficult.
If the Board of Review denies your appeal, you may appeal once more to Superior Court. But once again, the Court's decision will be based on the existing record. The Court will not retry the facts or accept additional evidence. What happens at your Appeals Hearing creates the record that any subsequent appeals will be based on. If you go to your Appeals Hearing unprepared, you risk missing the opportunity to fully present your case. The best way to ensure that you make the most out of your Appeals Hearing is to hire an experienced employment attorney to prepare you, and to prepare your case.
If you are denied benefits, or receive benefits and the employer appeals, call us before you file an Appeal. We will evaluate your case by telephone. The consultation is free. The benefit to you can be the difference between winning or losing your case. Whatever you decide, don't miss filing your Appeal by the date listed on your notice, and continue to file your weekly claim for benefits.