By Jason Pachucki
Unfortunately, the news is full of stories about organizations who have had to lay off workers. If you are in that situation, the repercussions can pile up on your bottom line in higher unemployment insurance costs.
But what about your separations that aren’t from lack of work? Maybe you let go of an employee because they violated a company policy or stopped showing up for work, and they have filed an unemployment claim against you. If that claim is approved by the state and you feel you shouldn’t have to pay, you may want to appeal that decision and go to a hearing. That process can be intimidating and complicated, but is critical to help you protect your bottom line. There are 2 types of separations that may go to a hearing:
Voluntary Quit: What if the employee left on their own and said the employer changed their job in a significant way or they were being harassed and the employer did nothing about it. In that instance, they typically have the burden of proof to show that they left for good cause in order to be awarded benefits.
Discharge: What if the employer took the action to discharge the employee because of poor attendance, insubordination, violation of company policy, etc. In that instance, the employer typically has the burden of proof to show that the employee was discharged for “misconduct” and should not be awarded benefits.
If this dispute goes to a hearing, you may wonder if it is like a courtroom trial you see on TV. There are some similarities, but it is usually not quite that dramatic!
Most are held virtually since the pandemic, and may or may not go back to being held in person at some point.
A Hearing Officer or Administrative Law Judge usually handles the proceeding.
The claimant typically represents him or herself, and the employer either has one or more of their employees or a hearings representative they have engaged to help act on their behalf.
Testimony is given, exhibits are presented, and cross examination is usually allowed. Some states even allow closing statements.
You usually won’t know the outcome right away, and you will be notified by mail at a later date.
There are some things you can do to help increase your chance of winning the case.
Have all of your documentation gathered in advance and ready to present and enter into evidence. This may include a signed acknowledgement of company policy, past disciplinary notices, etc. that can be important when helping you make your case.
First hand witness testimony is very helpful if there was a particular incident that resulted in the discharge. Second hand accounts of the incident are technically hearsay and not as impactful.
Since most people don’t attend these hearings often, it might be helpful to engage a subject matter expert in the field to help represent you and improve your chances.
Don’t pay more unemployment costs than you need to. If you’d like to learn more about the hearings process and how Equifax might be able to help you improve your chances to win, view our webinar “Mock Unemployment Hearing: Medical Marijuana in the Workplace.”
The information provided is intended as general guidance and is not intended to convey any tax, benefits, or legal advice. For information pertaining to your company and its specific facts and needs, please consult your own tax advisor or legal counsel. Links to sources may be to third party sites. We have no control over and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites or services.