Sometimes, the denial of benefits is not because the employer has challenged it. It could be the intake worker formed an incorrect opinion based on what he or she was informed. Other times, the employer simply may not think it is worth the time, effort and money to attend a hearing to fight the claim. It happens where the employer does not show up. This does not mean you automatically win. You still have to convince the ALJ you meet all the eligibility criteria. Of course, it makes it much easier to do so when there is no direct testimony to refute your testimony. Good luck.
They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.
The employer doesn't need to participate in the live hearing if they don't want to. Of course it benefits you because your testimony has not been challenged.
The employer doesn't need to participate. While this makes it more likely you will win since your testimony will go unchallenged, you still need to convince the EDD that you satisfy all the criteria for benefits. Your employer not appearing doesn't guarantee approval of your claim.
This answer is a general interpretation of the law and is not fact specific to your case. Likewise it does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for a review of your specific facts and documents.