My former employer, a staffing agency, is appealing my unemployment payments due to performance as stated by the end client. Do I need a lawyer for the phone hearing? If so, what should I expect to pay? One lawyer quoted $1750 for the hearing.
Workers' Compensation Lawyer
Generally, you can lose an unemployment claim due to misconduct. It is possible for poor perfromance to rise to the level of misconduct. Thus, it may be necessary to have an attorney to combat this claim.
THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.
Employment / Labor Attorney
In my experience, which is limited to such proceedings in NY, employees facing an ex-employer's objection to the payment of unemployment insurance benefits generally are not represented by an attorney nor are they required to. Even employers are often not represented by an attorney, but instead arrange for an executive or manager or HR person to participate. The hearing officers who oversee these proceedings and are supposed to be neutral are generally very experienced in the applicable legal standards and in asking the right questions of both sides to establish whether or not there is any disqualifying conduct which would justify the non-payment of UI benefits. (Generally disqualifying conduct would include intentional conduct such as excessive absenteeism, gross violation of company rules, theft, intoxication, but not simply deficient or negligent performance). Nevertheless, depending on what the employer claims would disqualify the employee, it could certainly help to have legal representation.
As for the amount of the fee, in NY, the fees charged by an attorney representing a UI claimant are regulated by and subject to the approval of the agency, but you should check to see whether GA has a similar requirement. These hearings generally do not last more than an hour or two, so the fee quoted seems high, but if the attorney is agreeing to represent you on any subsequent hearings and any appeals, then the fee would not seem excessive.