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Hearing Prep Versus Rep

By May 5, 2023July 14th, 2023No Comments

You just received a notice of an unemployment hearing. You may ask yourself, “How do I prepare for the upcoming hearing and what should I expect?” If you haven’t participated in a hearing before, your mind might conjure up images of trials that you have seen on TV or in the movies. In reality, unemployment hearings are very informal compared to what you see on Law & Order.

Even though an unemployment hearing is more informal, it is important to prepare for the hearing in advance so you can present the evidence that is relevant to the case. We are going to focus on how to be prepared for a hearing and review when it may be beneficial to have an outside representative assist you in presenting your case in a hearing.

What is Hearing Prep?

While the specifics of the preparation will differ slightly depending on the reason for separation, your hearing analyst will reach out to schedule a preparation call to discuss the following items.

How do I participate? We make sure you have the information on how to participate in the hearing including phone numbers to call, website to visit, or physical location of the hearing.
What should I expect? We provide a quick rundown of what will happen at the hearing. This covers topics from swearing in witnesses to who will likely present first.
What do I need? Our representatives will make sure you have the hearing packet, hearing notices, and any documentation that has been presented to the referee.
What will be asked? In addition to the separation information, you should be prepared to offer information about the claimant’s employment including dates of employment, job title, and duties.
How do I prepare? Based on the reason for separation, we will provide you with a listing of the possible questions that could be asked during the hearing to help you prepare your answers in advance.
What happens next? When the hearing is completed, the referee will not immediately issue a determination. The outcome of the case is sent via a written determination/decision at a later date.

Prep Tips

Here are some tips to help you be prepared to present your best case:

  • If you are joined in the hearing by others from your organization, identify up front who will be the main spokesperson. This is the only person that will be allowed to ask additional questions.
  • Keep your answers short and brief. Yes or no answers are acceptable and if the referee needs more information, they will ask for additional details.
  • Witnesses can help your case, but they must have first-hand knowledge relating to the separation. If an individual does not have first-hand knowledge, their testimony is considered hearsay and may not be considered in making the decision.
  • Make sure that you have copies of the documentation and other employment information in front of you during the hearing.
  • You have the right to ask the claimant or witnesses questions, but it is not required.
  • If the claimant or a witness introduces new testimony, you will be given the opportunity to respond to the new information.
  • When all testimony has been provided, you will be given the opportunity to provide a closing statement. It is not necessary but if provided, keep it brief and to the point.

Hearing Officers

State unemployment hearings are led by an Administrative Law Judge, Adjudicator, or Hearing Referee. They are there to gather the facts of a case and issue a ruling based on the laws of the given state. Do not be concerned if the hearing officer in your case appears to take a softer tone with the claimant. While it is true that a referee is not allowed to become an advocate for the claimant, they may take more time explaining things to the claimant than the employer. While this may feel like they are favoring the claimant, the determination of the case is based on the law and must be able to stand up to additional scrutiny on appeal.

Provided by our friend, Michele Heckmann, Director of Customer Insights, at Thomas & Company.

(Image by Fanjianhua from Freepik.)

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