The Hearings are very informal. The Referee will introduce himself and explain the procedures. It may include the initial report that was made by Unemployment personnel. You will be given the opportunity to present your side of the equation but if it differs greatly from what the Referee sees, be prepared to explain why. All parties and witnesses testify during the Appeal under oath. During the hearing proper decorum is expected for court. Threatening language or actions toward anyone will not be tolerated.
Hearings are informal. Plan to arrive at least ten minutes before your appointment time. The hearing will be recorded as an official record of the proceeding. The Referee explains the procedure and reads into the record the relevant information already on file. This may include the fact finding report and all other documents from the first hearing at the Job Center. You are not bound by the statements in the fact finding report and will be given an opportunity to present your version of the facts fully. However, if your testimony differs from your fact finding statement, you should be prepared to explain why. All parties and witnesses must testify under oath.
During the Appeal Hearing, present your description of the events and a timeline. Make sure to present any documents you have concerning the issue. Bring all witness who were directly involved. If you quit your job, you will have to prove that you left for a good cause that was related to your employer. You may also be asked if you are able to work and available for new work. Be prepared for this question by listing the names and address of employers of jobs you applied for and the dates. The Referee will ask many questions as he or she tries to get to the point where they can make a determination. Give an accurate account of what happened. Do not ramble on about items that do not concern the Referee. During the meeting you will be allowed to question witnesses and your former employer.
Your former employer may be at the Appeal meeting along with the Administrator. The hearings are open to the public, but usually only the parties involved attend. If you feel that the hearing may present sensitive information, you can ask for the Referee to close the hearing to the public. You can send your information ahead of your meeting or bring it with you. If you forget to bring something related to the hearing, ask the Referee to continue the hearing so you can get your information together. Remember you must have a good reason for the Referee to allow a continuance.
The rules of evidence do not apply. The law allows the Referee to question the parties and review all documents to ensure justice for both parties. Hearsay testimony which is evidence of statements made by people not present at the hearing may be acceptable. If your employer offers direct testimony on an issue and you reply with only hearsay evidence, the Referee will give greater weight to the testimony of the employer. Make sure to bring people who witnessed or who have first-hand knowledge of the events that lead up to your separation.
In Lower Appeals cases involving a termination of employment, the employer will testify first. In cases involving a resignation from employment, the claimant will testify first. After each witness testifies, the other party will be able to ask questions or cross examine. Make sure not to interrupt the proceedings, even if you do not agree with what the witness or the former employer is saying. You will always have the opportunity to present your side.
If you are bringing paperwork to be admitted as evidence, you should prepare three copies. You will not be able to make copies at the hearings.