Written by attorney Michelle J Douglass


New Jersey unemployment compensation provide employees who lose their job due to no fault of their own with a form of compensation while they remain unemployed and continue looking for new work. The New Jersey Department of Labor has a process in order to determine whether an applicant is eligible and the amount and duration they can collect unemployment benefits.

An Overview of the Unemployment Appeals Process

Appealing to the Appeal Tribunal

**REMEMBER: Even if you are denied benefits, you must continue to claim your benefits every two weeks by phone or online. If you do not claim benefits, you will not be able to receive them even if you later win your appeal.

If you are found ineligible for benefits or are disqualified from benefits (whether fully or partially), you may file an appeal to the Appeal Tribunal. This is your first and probably your only opportunity for a hearing during the appeals process. This is where you will have the opportunity to make your case—to question the employer and bring forth testimony from key witnesses and offer other evidence. Your employer also has the right to appeal. Appeals from these determinations must be made to the Appeal Tribunal within 10 days of the date the decision was mailed (or within seven days from the day you received the decision, in unusual circumstances, such as when your mail is delayed). The deadline and instructions for appeal is written on the upper right-hand corner of the Notice of Determination.

You may file your appeal by mail or fax. To file your appeal, state the reasons why you disagree with the denial. There are no magic words for this. If your appeal is late, explain why it is late. If you do not show “good cause" for a late appeal, the Appeal Tribunal may reject it without ever hearing your arguments. Be sure to include your name, Social Security number, and address on your appeal, and don’t forget to sign and date your letter of appeal. Always keep a copy for your records.

Shortly after you send your letter of appeal to the Appeal Tribunal, you should receive a “Notice of Receipt of Appeal." This notice simply confirms that the Appeal Tribunal received your letter of appeal and that the appeal is being processed. If you do not receive such a notice within two weeks of sending your appeal letter, call the Appeal Tribunal (609-292-9294) to check on the status of your appeal.

Later (generally, within 12-15 weeks of filing your appeal), you will receive a Notice of Telephone Hearing from the Appeal Tribunal. (Almost all Appeal Tribunal hearings are phone hearings. If you need an in-person hearing, you must specifically request that from the Appeal Tribunal). If you do not receive the Notice of Hearing at least five days in advance, you have the right to ask that the hearing be rescheduled for a later time. You can also request an adjournment if a key witness cannot be present to testify. This is best done by calling and faxing your request.

How will the Appeal Tribunal hearing be conducted?

Your Appeal Tribunal hearing will be conducted by one Appeals Examiner. Once all parties are on the telephone, the Appeals Examiner will identify the parties, recite the issues in question, and summarize the hearing procedure. The examiner will announce that the hearing is being recorded. This fact is important because the recording will become the written transcript of the hearing. A transcript is a document that states word for word what each person said during the hearing. This transcript is used if you have to appeal your case to the Superior Court Appellate Division. Then, the hearing will proceed.

Generally, if you are the person who filed the appeal, the Appeals Examiner will first ask for your side of the story (but note that the employer may be questioned first, depending on the nature of the issue in question). You, and anyone after you who provides testimony, will be sworn-in. This means that you are promising under oath to tell the truth. After the examiner has finished their questioning, she or he will ask you for any additional testimony you feel is relevant. This is your opportunity to offer information that was not covered by the examiner’s questions. The employer or their representative will then have an opportunity to ask you questions. If you have witnesses to support your argument, they will testify next. The Appeals Examiner will ask them questions, and then you can ask any additional questions you may have. You would do this to make sure your witnesses are able to fully explain and support your side of the story.

Next, the Appeals Examiner will ask the employer (and the employer’s witnesses) questions and give them the opportunity to offer relevant information. After the employer’s testimony, you will have a chance to ask the employer questions. This is an opportunity for you to challenge what the employer has said, but it must be done in the form of questions. The process then repeats for any witnesses the employer might have, except the employer or the employer’s attorney may also question the employer or witness. The Appeals Examiner will then give you an opportunity to offer rebuttal testimony—testimony to respond to what the employer and/or the employer’s witnesses have said. This is your opportunity to correct any misinformation that the employer gave in their testimony. When all the testimony is complete, both parties may make closing statements to summarize why their case is the strongest. A closing argument is not necessary but can be helpful to highlight a particular issue (see below for an example of a closing argument).

What will happen after my Appeal Tribunal hearing?

The Appeals Examiner will send you a written decision shortly after the hearing – usually within a week. Your former employer and the local unemployment office will receive copies, too. If you, your employer, or the unemployment office disagrees with the decision, it can be appealed to the Board of Review within 20 days.

Appealing to the Board of Review

If you disagree with the decision of the Appeal Tribunal, you have the right to file a written appeal within 20 days of the date of the decision (unless you can demonstrate “good cause" for a late appeal). Your employer and the NJDOL also have the right to appeal if they disagree with the decision.

Appeals from Appeal Tribunal decisions are made to the Board of Review. Like the Appeal Tribunal, the Board of Review is an office within the NJDOL that reviews unemployment appeals. However, unlike the Appeal Tribunal, the Board of Review generally only analyzes appeals on the existing record. The Board of Review reviews each party’s written arguments and generally issues written decisions without conducting any additional hearing. The Board of Review can agree with, reverse or change Appeal Tribunal decisions. The Board of Review may also send the matter back to the Appeal Tribunal for additional testimony if there are questions that must be answered before it can make its decision.

Appeals to the Board of Review must demonstrate why the Appeal Tribunal’s decision was wrong, based on the information presented during the Appeal Tribunal hearing. The Board will read the written arguments and review the tape recording from the Appeal Tribunal hearing to decide whether or not it agrees with the Appeal Tribunal’s decision. It will not consider evidence or testimony that was not raised during the Appeal Tribunal hearing unless you (or your employer) have a good reason for not bringing it up before. Unless you (or your employer) demonstrate a good reason for not raising a particular issue or not introducing a particular piece of evidence during the Appeal Tribunal, the Board will only review the testimony and evidence presented during your Appeal Tribunal hearing.

Additional resources provided by the author

Appeal Tribunal Department of Labor and Workforce Development P.O. Box 936 Trenton, NJ 08625-0936 Phone: 609-292-9294 Fax: 609-292-2438

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