Your Unemployment Hearing is the most important stage of the unemployment compensation appeal process. In all likelihood, it will be the final decision regarding your unemployment compensation. No further hearings, and no further evidence, will be permitted after your unemployment hearing. Here is an overview of what to expect during your unemployment hearing to help you be fully prepared.
The unemployment benefit appeal process does provide opportunities to obtain a determination in your favor, but you must have knowledge of the laws, the rules, and have the required tools to obtain and present evidence on your behalf.
The fact is, ODJFS does not operate based on what you know to be true, unless that truth can be shown to them, proven to them, and explained in a way that they can understand that Ohio statutes and rules require them to give you benefits.
The Ohio Unemployment Lawyers at Sivinski Law Offices have the expertise and experience to navigate through the Unemployment Appeal process and to present the best case possible to obtain the benefits you deserve. It is a simple decision: If you want to increase your chances of obtaining benefits, take advantage of a free consultation with the Ohio Unemployment Lawyers at Sivinski Law Offices.
If your unemployment claim proceeds to a hearing, you will receive a notice that the case is being transferred to the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission (UCRC). This notice provides important information about your hearing, including (a) how to request your file; (b) how to subpoena witnesses and documents; and (c) how to submit documents for the hearing.
This is important, because the file will include more than the notices you have received, but also everything that has been submitted to ODJFS by you and your former employer, as well as responses to questionnaires, notes of telephone conversations with ODJFS, and perhaps a more detailed explanation of why ODJFS is making the decisions that it is. Additionally, the Hearing Officer will have this file and may refer to it during the hearing, so you will want to have it to follow what is being referred to. Request your file immediately.
Subpoenas can compel witnesses to attend the hearing and can be used to obtain documents from your former employer. If there is a witness or document that you KNOW will help you, this is a valuable tool. However, do not use it to fish. Whatever documents you subpoena will be provided to the Hearing Officer, so if you are uncertain whether they will help you, you take a risk by requesting them. Also, be careful when deciding whether to have current employees as witnesses, because they may become concerned about their own job security and clam up during the actual hearing while their boss is on the line. Subpoenas can be requested up to 5 days before the hearing, but they should be requested as early as possible.
If you have already submitted documents, they will already be included in the file. However, if you have other documents that you want to submit, follow the instructions to do so. You may do so up within 14 days of receiving this notice.
Once your ODJFS file is transferred to the UCRC and they schedule your hearing, you will receive another notice with the date and time of the hearing and the telephone number to call. Do NOT miss your hearing, as there are only very limited reasons ODJFS will excuse your failure to attend.
You may request to hold the hearing in person. Generally, this should only be done when there is an important reason to do so. For example, the case may depend upon a video or visual exhibit that all parties should view together.
On the day of your hearing, call in 15 minutes early. You will provide your name and number. Once the Hearing Officer is ready to begin, she will call you and all other parties and place you into a conference call. The Hearing Officer will begin the hearing with a brief introduction. The hearing will be scheduled for 45 minutes, and the Hearing Officer will do what she can to keep it within that time limit. However, if it needs to run over it may be scheduled for a second hearing.
In most cases, if you were terminated, the Hearing Officer will start with the employer and their witnesses. If you resigned, the Hearing Officer will start with you instead. Based on what she sees in the file, she will ask each witness questions. The witness will then be given the opportunity to add more, or if they are represented their representative will ask them further questions. The other side will then be given the opportunity to cross examine each witness.
At the end of the hearing, each party will be given a brief amount of time (e.g., 2 minutes) to give a closing statement – summarizing their position.
You will not receive a decision on the day of the hearing. Rather, the Hearing Officer will close the hearing and draft their decision. In most cases, we find decisions are issued within a week, though it is not unusual for it to take a few weeks for the decision to be issued.
If you have recently quit or been fired from an employer and are just starting the unemployment compensation process, make sure you understand the law or are working with someone who does.
Sivinski Law Offices prides itself by its thorough representation during hearings. We take care of requesting the hearing, requesting a copy of the ODJFS file, making strategic decisions about subpoenas and witnesses and request them when appropriate, and we submit exhibits in the proper format for the hearing. We review the evidence, talk with you, and come to decisions about what are the main issues, what are the main points in contention, and what the Hearing Officer needs to be convinced of to rule in your favor. We give you guidance regarding how to conduct yourself during the hearing and we call into the hearing with you – so we may cross examine the employer’s witnesses, help you to explain your position to the hearing officer, and we provide the closing statement. By becoming fully prepared for the hearing, and focusing on the important issues, you will find yourself comfortable and able to have your case presented in a compelling manner that will increase your likelihood of success.
Unemployment Appeal Won - Employer Lacks Just Cause to Terminate for Absence: Employer who did not follow its own progressive discipline policy, and then issued a termination for an absence due to an illness with medical documentation, lacked just cause. Benefits Approved. (4/24/2017)
Unemployment Appeal Won - Employer Could Not Convert Layoff into a Termination: Employer who asked employee if he wanted a voluntary layoff and then did not offer him any work could not use a prior incident as a justification to terminate - the employee was laid off due to a lack of work. Benefits approved. (4/24/2017)
Unemployment Appeal Won - Showed the Hearing Officer that the Employee Did Not Commit Misconduct: Employer failed to show any misconduct after last discipline and therefore lacked just cause to then terminate. Benefits approved. (4/7/2017)
Unemployment Appeal Won - Giving Accurate Information is Not Just Cause to Terminate: Employee payroll coordinator was terminated without just cause for sharing tax information with employee when it was shown that the information was accurate and followed procedure. Benefits approved. (4/3/2017)
Unemployment Appeal Won - Employer Lacked Just Cause When It Skipped Discipline Steps: Hearing Officer agreed that the Employer failed to follow its progressive discipline policy and, as a result, it lacked just cause to terminate our client. Benefits approved. (3/29/2017)
Unemployment Appeal Won - Mistake that Was Quickly Corrected Was Not Just Cause to Terminate: Employee with prior disciplinary record was terminated for entering the wrong code on a lab report; however, because the error was immediately caught and corrected the Hearing Officer agreed that the employer lacked just cause to terminate. Benefits Approved. (3/27/2017)
Unemployment Appeal Won - Last Minute Denial of Vacation Did Not Give Just Cause to Terminate: Employee requested vacation many weeks in advance and paid for the vacation, only to be told a couple days before that he would be terminated if he took the vacation. The Hearing Officer agreed that the Employer lacked just cause to terminate because it could not show the employee's actions, "were so egregious or unreasonable as to warrant a denial of unemployment benefits." Benefits approved. (3/23/2017)
Unemployment Appeal Won - Employer Lacked Just Cause to Terminate for Absenteeism: Even though the employee did not have medical documentation, she provided credible testimony that she was absent only twice and was ill each time. "Absenteeism caused by bona fide illness, reported to an employer, is not just cause for discharge." Benefits Approved. (3/15/2017)
Unemployment Appeal Won - Leaving Early Does Not Justify Termination: After an employee's supervisor laughed with a customer who was calling her stupid and then argued with her when she complained, she became upset, crying, and said she needed to take the rest of the day off. The Hearing Officer agreed that the employer did not have just cause to terminate her for arguing or leaving early when it did not object or warn her that she would be disciplined. Benefits approved. (3/13/2017)
Unemployment Appeal Won - Reporting Off Work is Not a Resignation: Employee who had a conversation about wages with his supervisor and finished the conversation by saying he was "done," had not resigned. Rather, even though he reported off for the next day, the fact that he asked why the employer took him off the schedules confirmed that he only meant he was "done" with the conversation. Benefits approved. (3/13/2017)
Sivinski Law Offices offers Free Initial Consultations. We additionally offer contingency agreements whenever possible, with no up-front fee. We collect a fee ONLY if we are successful in obtaining unemployment benefits that are owed to you. We also offer flat fees and hourly rates when a contingency fee agreement is not appropriate.
Our goal is always to provide you with high quality representation to protect your rights. You have nothing to risk or lose by calling the Ohio Unemployment Attorneys at Sivinski Law Offices for your free consultation, so call us today before any of your unemployment appeal rights are lost.
Because unemployment determinations are appealed in writing, and the hearings are conducted by telephone, Sivinski Law Offices successfully represents clients throughout the State of Ohio.
20545 Center Ridge Rd.
Rocky River, OH 44116
Updated July 2017
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