Written by attorney Amanda Lynn Deering

What to expect during your California Unemployment Appeal Hearing

If you have been denied unemployment benefits by the Employment Development Department (EDD), you have a right to appeal the decision. An appeal of EDD’s decision can be a frustrating and confusing process, but if you believe that your benefits were wrongfully denied or terminated, this is the only way to have them reinstated.

When EDD issues its Notice of Determination, you are given 20 days to appeal the decision. EDD will mail you the proper appeals forms when it issues its Notice of Determination.

The California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (CUIAB) website has a video that walks you through the unemployment appeals hearing. Your “real life" hearing will be very similar to that shown on the video.

Your appeal with CUIAB will be held in front of an administrative law judges (ALJ). Proceedings at the CUIAB are less formal than a hearing at your local superior court. The ALJ will begin by reciting all the information about the hearing, such as the case numbers and the reason for the appeal. Although each judge is different, many ALJs will begin by asking questions of the employee first, and then allow the other side to ask any relevant follow up questions. If there are any other witnesses at the proceeding, the ALJ will likely follow this same procedure for those witnesses as well. After both parties have been allowed to speak, then the ALJ will allow both parties to give their “closing arguments." This should be a short restatement of the facts and how it directly applies to the appeal. Long-winded statements that bring up irrelevant points should be avoided.

After the hearing, the ALJ will issue a written decision. The decision will also include information about filing an appeal to CUIAB with a panel of ADJs who will review the original ALJ’s ruling.

Do you need an attorney? Most people do not have an attorney present, but you are able to have an attorney present if you wish. An attorney can help you present your case in a concise manner to the judge, which is often very beneficial to the process.

Does CUIAB provide interpreters? Yes. If your Notice of Hearing does not state that an interpreter will be present, you should contact CUIAB at the phone number listed on your notice to advise them that you will need an interpreter to be present. Do not wait until the date of the hearing to notify someone that you need an interpreter to be present.

Do I need to bring evidence? Yes. If you have written evidence or a witness that supports your side of the story, you should provide this information to the court. Oftentimes these hearing become a “he said, she said" in terms of issues such as voluntary quit or last day of work. Having evidence in support of your version of events will aid the ALJ in seeing your side of the story more clearly.

Should I tell the ADJ about how stressed out my boss made me and how difficult it was to work at my job? No. The ALJ has to hear several other cases the morning of the hearing. It is best to stay on the judge’s “good side" by sticking to the facts that are relevant to your claim. The judge only wants to hear things that directly relate to your argument. Being direct and to the point allows the judge to see a clear picture of your claim and your arguments in regard to your appeal.

My boss is lying to the judge. Should I say something to her? Under no circumstances should you ever address anyone but the ALJ during your hearing. Your remarks should only be addressed to the judge. Even if you know that someone is lying through their teeth and you want to shout it from the rooftops, you should resist the urge. Every side is given an opportunity to speak and ask questions of one another. You may use your time period for questioning to address any discrepancies in the other side’s testimony. Being respectful to the other side – and the ALJ – goes a long way in this type of proceeding, so do your best to remain professional and courteous to everyone involved in the proceeding.

If you have an unemployment appeal and you would like to speak with an experienced employment law attorney about your case, please contact Deering & Valle right away. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping California’s employees get the benefits they deserve. We offer affordable, flat rate pricing for all our legal services. Contact us today to schedule your free initial evaluation with one of our attorneys.

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