Attorney for Unemployment Appeal: Get the Job Done Right
For an unemployment appeal, employees have the option of hiring an unemployment appeal attorney or representing themselves. Employers who have a history of appealing unemployment claims will have an experienced lawyer on their side. An unemployment appeal lawyer can be the difference between winning or losing the appeal.
The Basics of an Unemployment Appeal
When unemployment compensation is appealed by an employer, the responsibility of proving that you are not eligible for UC benefits falls to the employer. This means that the employee must only respond to the allegations that an employer brings; however, it’s crucial that an employee shares only the right information and not accidentally prove the employer’s accusations. When continuing the appeal process, the unemployment appeal has a series of life stages, going first to the referee then to the UCBR and finally to the Commonwealth Court.
Receipt of the Notice of Determination
The letter informs you if you are eligible or not for UC benefits. Along with this determination, the letter also outlines the reasons why you are or are not eligible for benefits. If you are ineligible for benefits, you can choose to file an appeal within 15 days of the mailing date. The letter also informs you the final date for filing your appeal.
- File your appeal before the deadline
- Send your appeal by email, fax, or mail
- Keep proof of the date appeal was sent
The Stages of the Unemployment Appeal
When cycling through the unemployment appeal process and not receiving the decision that you want, you can continue to appeal. With each appeal, your hearings become more and more technical, building on the information from the previous hearing. Your appeal will be heard by a referee, the UCBR, and the Commonwealth Court. The decision made by the Commonwealth Court is final.
Appealing to the Referee
This preliminary hearing will end in a decision that you or your employer can appeal. During this referee hearing, your employer will try to prove that you shouldn’t receive UC benefits while you try to negate those reasons. A referee file will also include evidence from both parties for their side of the argument. Upon receipt of the referee’s decision, you must decide whether or not to appeal. Once again, you have 15 days to appeal.
Appealing to the UCBR
The Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (UCBR) handles the appeal after the referee decision, but at this level, the hearing scrutinizes the law alongside the referee decision. After the appeal is filed, you will receive a copy of the transcript from the referee hearing and then a brief must be written. There is nothing “brief” about this document since it outlines not only the previous arguments and evidence but also why the referee’s decision was legally wrong. If you don’t already have a lawyer, there still may be time with the help of a lawyer to recover your position and win this appeal.
Request for Reconsideration
If the UCBR decision still is not in your favor, you could choose to ask the UCBR to reconsider their decision, meaning that they would need to look over the evidence and their ruling again. This request must be filed within 15 days of the mailing date of the UCBR decision.
Appealing to the Commonwealth Court
A 30-day deadline of the mailing date of the UCBR decision allows you and your lawyer to create a thorough Petition for Review document. This document generally includes a list of items explaining how the UCBR erred in their final decision. The date of the decision and the Board Decision Number should also be included on the Petition for Review. After receiving your petition, the Commonwealth Court will notify you if your appeal is accepted or not. No matter what, the decision made by the Commonwealth Court is final.
Unemployment Appeal: Fighting Your Employer for UC Benefits
The Law forces the employer to prove that an employee is ineligible for UC benefits. This responsibility and burden is only the employer’s. Therefore, you must be smart about what information you share during the referee hearing. To have the best results for your UC appeal, you will want an unemployment lawyer who understands the best strategies for your case.
Poke holes in the evidence
Since it’s the employer’s burden to prove the employee’s ineligibility, the employer brings evidence and documentation of how the employee fails to meet requirements for UC benefits. A lawyer attacks the proffered evidence, objecting to the inclusion of some evidence and questioning the weight of other types of evidence. Only a lawyer will know how to go about this in such a way that benefits your situation.
Questioning the rule
To prove that an employee is not eligible for UC benefits, the employer must show that a company rule was violated by the employee. Simply saying that the rule exists is not enough. A lawyer challenges an employer’s claim of a company rule by checking to see if the rule was used throughout the company and that everyone was knowledgeable about the rule. If the rule cannot be proved, then how can an employee have violated it?
Often an employee is marked ineligible for UC benefits by their employer for willful misconduct, which is particularly bad due to the intentionality of the misbehavior. However, an employee who accidentally mislabels paperwork may only have been negligent. Simple negligence should not be reason for an employee to lose UC benefits. A lawyer will know how to draw out information that will reveal your innocence of willful misconduct.
Prove good cause
Sometimes you genuinely have a good reason for violating a company rule. However, you and your lawyer will need to prove this to be the case without providing your employer with extra evidence to support their own argument. In some situations, self-defense in the workplace does not immediately mark you as ineligible for UC benefits. Some good causes can justify why you may have participated in a behavior that is willful misconduct.
Violations of Company Rules:
- fear or injury
- physical inability to comply
- ignorance of rules
- vague rules
- company’s past toleration of rule-breaking
Absenteeism & Tardiness:
- transportation issues
- family emergency
- childcare problems
- bad weather/possible injury
- religious observances
- civic duty
- honestly believed had a holiday
Tips for the Employee: How to Best Prepare for an Unemployment Appeal
An unemployment appeal may seem like a straight forward process, but to start off on the right foot for a referee hearing means recognizing your legal options and working with an unemployment attorney. The complexity intensifies with each filed appeal. But an employee can take a few steps to best prepare for an unemployment appeal.
Consult an unemployment attorney. Although you can choose to go it alone, don’t. The appeal process builds upon each appeal so every hearing is crucial to winning your UC benefits. An unemployment attorney understands what qualifies as willful misconduct or not and can help create a strategy to regain your UC benefits.
Collect your paperwork and witnesses. Any type of documents from your employer about your willful misconduct could be useful in your hearing, including time sheets, letters, write-ups, and emails. Your coworkers may be useful, too, in proving your innocence and eligibility for UC benefits.
Be professional in every interaction. A hearing may not be public, but how you choose to conduct yourself with the referee, your lawyer, and your employer can influence the outcome of the decision. No matter how frustrated you are, be sure to exercise politeness throughout the entire proceeding.