What to expect at a UC Hearing?
After you have filed your appeal to your Notice of Determination, you will receive a Notice of Hearing in the mail within 2-6 weeks of having filed your appeal. The Notice of Hearing will state where and when you must appear in order to preset your case to a Referee. The purpose of a Referee hearing is to explain why your appeal should be granted and why you should be found eligible for unemployment benefits (“UC Benefits”).
Now that you have a hearing date, how do you prepare for it? What should you expect at your UC Hearing?
Step One: Arrive at the designated hearing location on time
On the day of your hearing, you must show up to the location on the Notice of Hearing at least 15 minutes prior to your hearing time. I would recommend showing up at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled hearing time. The reason for showing up early is so you can review what is called the “Referee File.”
Step Two: Review the Referee File
When you show up to the designated location of the hearing, you will sign in and ask to review your file, known as the Referee File. The Referee File contains all documents that either you or your employer has submitted in connection with your attempt to collect UC Benefits. You should look at all the documents so you can understand what your Employer might argue in attempts to get the Referee to deny your UC Benefits. Once you are done reviewing the Referee File, you must return it to the person who signed you in so the Employer has the chance to review it.
Step Three: Present you case to the Referee
The Referee will come out to get all parties associated with your UC appeal, which includes yourself, the employer and any additional witnesses brought by yourself or the Employer. The Referee will usher everyone into a small conference-type room. Once inside the room, the Referee will go on record. All Referee hearings are recorded so a transcript can be made in the event you appeal the Referee’s decision. The Referee will begin by introducing himself and all parties. Every Referee has a different procedure of how to conduct a hearing. Generally, after all parties are introduced onto the record, the Referee will go through the Referee File and identify each document. After the Referee identifies each document, he will ask each party if they object to any of the documents becoming part of the record. If neither party objects, then the Referee will generally ask the Claimant a few preliminary questions such as: (1) last day worked, (2) first day worked, (3) rate of pay and (4) job title.
After the Referee asks the preliminary questions, the focus then shifts to each party to present a case as to why the Claimant should/shouldn’t be granted UC Benefits. The issues involved will determine the procedure of the hearing.
For example, if you were found ineligible under 402(b) of the Pennsylvania Unemployment Law (“Law”), then you will proceed first. You will testify as to why you quit and why you should be eligible for UC Benefits. The Referee will allow the Employer to ask you questions about your testimony. Then the Employer is given the chance to testify about why you shouldn’t receive UC Benefits. You are given the same opportunity to question the Employer concerning their testimony.
On the opposite, if you were found ineligible under 402(e) of the Law, the Employer would testify first and then follow the same procedure as above, just reversed. It is important to remember, that this is the procedure when the issues involve 402(b) or 402(e). There are many other issues that can be discussed at your Referee hearing. The issue at stake will determine what procedure the hearing will follow.
The Referee will then conclude the hearing and go off the record.
Step Four: Receive the Referee’s Decision
The Referee will render a decision and mail it to your address of record within 2-4 weeks of the hearing date. If you disagree with the Referee’s decision, you can appeal it further to the UCBR.