Filing the Written Appeal
Within 20 days of the mailing date listed at the top of your Notice of Determination or Notice of Overpayment, you must submit a written appeal if you wish to have your case considered. If your appeal is not post-marked by this deadline, the judge will first determine whether you had good cause for the late appeal. If he does not find you have good cause, he will not go on to review the substantive issues of your case. To file your written appeal, you may utilize the appeal form attached to the determination letter. A link to a fillable pdf version of this form can be found below. You may also choose to send a letter appealing EDD's decision. Be sure to provide your social security number in the letter if you choose this option.
The Acknowledgment Letter
Depending on your location, the time from your submission of the written appeal and your receipt of the acknowledgment letter may vary. Generally you will receive this letter within 2-4 weeks from the date you mailed your written appeal. This letter confirms receipt of your appeal, and tells you which CUIAB Office your case has been forwarded to. CUIAB (California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board) is a separate entity from EDD and thus is a neutral party. Your appeal will be assigned to an Administrative Law Judge, who will determine based on the facts and applicable law whether EDD's decision should be affirmed or reversed.
The Hearing Date Notice
Approximately 2-3 weeks after you receive the acknowledgment letter, you will receive a notice of your hearing date and time from the CUIAB office to which your case has been assigned. Your hearing will usually be 7-10 days from the date you receive the letter. Don't be alarmed if you receive several of these notices with different case numbers. The cases are divided by issues and claim periods. All of the cases and issues will be dealt with in a single hearing.
The Hearing Date
You must arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your hearing time. Once you have received notice of the hearing date, you may wish to go to the CUIAB office to review your file in advance. However, this is not absolutely necessary. I recommend arriving 45 minutes to 1 hour before your hearing time if you have not reviewed your file in advance. This will give you the opportunity to review the file first (before your employer, if the employer is a party to the appeal), and to find any surprises that you had not anticipated in the file. This way you can anticipate these issues and decide how you will deal with them if they surface during the hearing.
Your hearing will be before an Administrative Law Judge. He or she will begin the hearing by explaining the procedures, admitting the documents in the file into evidence, and swearing in all witnesses. Depending on who the moving party was in your separation from employment, the judge may begin by asking you questions or begin with your employer. In situations where the EDD has determined you were discharged, the employer will be questioned first. If they have a representative, that individual will have the opportunity to ask the employer's witnesses additional questions following the judge's questioning. You or your representative will then have an opportunity to cross-examine all witnesses. If EDD determines you quit your job, you are considered the moving party and will be questioned first. You may present documentary evidence, but will need to bring copies for the judge and the employer. Each side may make a closing statement.
The Administrative Law Judge will not inform you of his or her decision at the conclusion of the hearing. Rather, you will receive the decision in the mail approximately 2-3 weeks after the hearing. If you do not agree with the decision, you may file a board appeal within 20 days. A panel of judges in Sacramento will consider your written argument, and then decide if the judge abused his discretion in making the decision he did. Essentially, they will not review the case from scratch, and generally do not consider new evidence. They will not decide your case on the basis of how they would rule given the facts. Rather, they will determine if a reasonable judge could have come to the decision that your judge did in the first hearing.
Should I retain an attorney?
An attorney is not required for this process, as you may represent yourself or choose any party to represent you. However, your chances of winning the appeal may be greater if you have an experienced attorney on your side. S/he can prepare your written appeal, prepare you for the hearing, and represent you at the hearing. The attorney will be able to ask you questions to clarify answers that you gave the judge, and ask you questions to ensure all the information you intended to present in your testimony is on the record. The attorney will have experience in cross-examining witnesses. This can be intimidating for an individual when the witnesses are their former supervisors. The attorney knows the law and can identify the relevant facts in your case so your testimony is effective, and knows what to ask your employer on cross-exam. If you intend to retain an attorney, seek a consultation soon after receiving your notice of determination so s/he may best advise you.