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Unemployment Compensation Board of Review

Adminstrative Law Judge Hearings

An Unemployment Compensation appeals hearing is conducted by an impartial administrative law judge. The purpose of the hearing is to decide whether unemployment benefits should be granted or denied. Anyone with an interest in the outcome of the hearing is a "party" to the hearing. The parties associated with most hearings include the claimant and the employer.

It is the Judge's job to make sure all parties receive a fair hearing. A fair hearing means an impartial judge will decide your case after considering the testimony of all witnesses and other evidence. He or she will make sure you understand the proceeding and that you have the time you need to present any information relevant to your case.

The hearing will result in a written decision by the Judge that either affirms, modifies, or dismisses the initial decision from the UC Deputy.
Your Scheduled Hearing

You will receive a Notice of Hearing. This will state when and where the appeal hearing is to take place. Your hearing may be held by telephone. Carefully note the DATE, TIME, and LOCATION of the hearing. If it is a telephone hearing, you will receive a copy of all documents in your file.

You must make every effort to attend the hearing. Only if you have a very important commitment that absolutely cannot be changed should you request a postponement. Generally, hearings will not be postponed for personal reasons, vacations, plant shut downs or business appointments.

Prepare for Your Hearing and Gather Evidence

This appeal hearing may be your last opportunity to present your case, so be thoroughly prepared.

Unemployment Compensation appeal hearings are called "de novo," which is Latin for "from the beginning." This means your hearing will be truly impartial and independent of the initial decision that granted or denied your benefits. The Judge who conducts the hearing is not bound by the initial decision and will base his/her decision only on the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing.

If documents, letters, statements, or any other type of evidence were previously presented to the unemployment office, and could be helpful to your case, you are responsible for making sure they are presented again at your appeal hearing. Decide who your witnesses will be, if any, and make sure they will attend your hearing. You may request subpoenas by contacting the Board of Review.
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Be Prompt

It is important that you are present at your appeal and that you arrive promptly. You are advised to arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time of your hearing. If you do not appear and you are the appealing party, your appeal will be dismissed. If you do not appear and you are the non-appealing party, the hearing will continue without you, and facts favorable to you may not be considered. Failure to appear may result in a denial of rights of further appeal.

The Hearing Process

The procedure is a fact-finding process. It can be thought of as a trial, but not as formal. The appeal hearing is carefully controlled by the Judge. This is done to insure each person has an equal opportunity to present his/her case.

The hearing will begin with the Judge making an opening statement about what will happen during the hearing. He or she will answer any questions you might have about the hearing process, and will only use information presented at the hearing to reach his/her decision.

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will begin receiving testimony by swearing in all of the parties that will testify at the hearing. The burden of proof varies depending on the issue. If the claimant left work voluntarily, it will be the claimant's burden to show that he/she had "good cause" for leaving. If the employer dismissed the claimant, it will the employer's burden to prove that the claimant was dismissed due to misconduct. The party carrying the burden of proof usually presents his/her case first.

The Judge will usually ask questions of the witnesses and allow them to tell their story. After answering all of the ALJ's questions, the witness will then be allowed to explain his/her answers and offer any additional or relevant information. The party who requested the witness' testimony will then have the opportunity to "cross examine" or question the witness. The next witness is then called and the same procedure is followed.

When one side has finished presenting his/her case, the opposing side will then have the opportunity to cross examine the witnesses, and will be given the opportunity to present his/her case. The Judge will close the hearing when neither side has any additional information or evidence to present. Most hearings, involving a separation, last approximately 30 minutes. All testimony given at the hearing is taken under oath and is tape-recorded.

If you are confused at any time during the hearing, ask the Judge for assistance. Finally, it is important to remember that the goal of the hearing is to gather facts, not to get into an argument. Arguing or getting angry during a hearing prevents you from being able to clearly state the facts of your case. You will give a much better presentation if you stay calm and do not allow emotions to cloud the issues.

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Evidence for Consideration

Only evidence which has been presented at the hearing will be considered, therefore you should bring with you any documents or witnesses that can directly help your case. Carefully think through your case. Ask yourself what information, documents or witnesses will help to establish the facts in your favor.

  • Choose a witness who has firsthand information. A person with firsthand information is someone who actually saw or heard the event to which he/she is testifying. His or her testimony is direct and comes from a personal knowledge of the facts.
  • Anyone who testifies about what someone else said, saw, or heard is offering hearsay and has limited knowledge of that event. Some hearsay is admissible as evidence. However, it is generally not as reliable as testimony from someone who has firsthand knowledge because he/she did not directly witness the events in question. Testimony given at the hearing, under oath and subject to cross-examination, is given more weight than hearsay statements.
  • Think carefully about who might have the most personal knowledge about your case. Do not bring a colleague or friend simply because he or she believes you are telling the truth. Rather, bring a witness to the key events, someone who can directly help you support your case.

Attorney Representation

You have the right to have an attorney represent you at your hearing. However, most parties come without an attorney. As always, the Judge will make sure all parties are given an opportunity to present their case. It is the Judge's job to make sure each party receives a fair and unbiased hearing, whether or not he or she chooses to have representation. If you believe your case is complicated or are uncomfortable presenting it yourself, then you have the right to have a lawyer, of your choice, present. Your legal representative will be given an opportunity to question the witnesses.

If you choose to have legal representation, contact your attorney immediately so as to allow ample time for them to prepare for the hearing. It is your responsibility to notify him or her of the time and place of the hearing and to discuss any fees associated with that representation. The Board of Review will review the amount the attorney charges you to make certain the fee is not excessive.

Special Accommodations

If you need special services, such as accommodations for persons with disabilities or an interpreter to present your facts at the hearing, contact the Board of Review in advance so the necessary arrangements can be made in time for your hearing, (304)558-2636 or (800)635-0189.

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