Understanding the Unemployment Hearing Process
Unemployment Hearing Process
At one time or another, employers may be faced with attending an Unemployment Insurance (UI) hearing. These unemployment hearings are designed to handle UI disputes and they are used to determine eligibility of UI benefits. Unlike regular court proceedings, the unemployment hearing process is usually more informal. Each party can successfully present their testimony and evidence, enabling the hearing officer to make a reasonable decision.
The burden of proof at a UI hearing falls on the party who initiated the separation from employment. If the employee voluntarily quit, it will be that employee’s responsibility to prove he or she quit for good cause. The employer must be prepared to defend its position if the claimant alleges that the quit was for work-related reasons.
If the employee was discharged, the burden Is on the employer to prove that the discharge was for ”misconduct.” In order for the claimant to be disqualified from receipt of benefits, the employer must prove that misconduct occurred. Misconduct is defined as a “willful and wanton disregard of the employer’s best interests.”
If there are witnesses who can provide any background or have first hand knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the separation from employment, they should be asked to participate in the unemployment hearing process. Firsthand testimony outweighs all other testimony considered and written statements do not carry the weight of firsthand testimony. Clear copies of all relevant documents also should be produced.
Both parties may request that the hearing officer issue a formal subpoena to compel the attendance of witnesses. A subpoena is only at the discretion of the hearing officer, so your request should include a detailed statement indicating the importance of the individual’s testimony, and why a subpoena is needed.
Prior to the hearing, it would be wise to discuss any issues or questions you may have with an experienced consultant. A third party can be instrumental in assisting employers through this complex unemployment hearing process.
Industrial U.I. has years of expertise handling the unemployment hearing process for all types of businesses and organizations. Please contact us to schedule an appointment today!