Attending an Unemployment Insurance Hearing
What Employees and Employers Need to Know
READ THIS BOOKLET. It contains information you will need in the appeal process. If you still have questions after reading this, contact the hearing office listed on the reverse side of the determination. The hearing office can tell you about general hearing procedures but cannot help prepare your case or give you advice about the merits of the case.
If you have questions about the payment of benefits or issues not under appeal, call:
Refer to the Handbook for Claimants online at: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/handbook.
If you are the employee and your appeal is pending, you should continue to file weekly claim certifications until the appeal process is over. If you stopped claiming unemployment benefits and want to start again, refer to your Handbook for Claimants.
Start to prepare your case now. Do not wait until you receive a hearing notice.
The following is general information on unemployment hearings under chapter 108 of the Wisconsin statutes and chapters DWD 100-150 of the administrative code.
You may read these documents at your local library or on the Internet:
- Chapter 108.01-108.26 http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/108
- Unemployment Rules and Regulations DWD 100-150 http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/code/admin_code/dwd/100_150
To receive a copy of the UI law, contact the hearing office listed on the reverse side of your determination.
- Administrative Law Judge
- An attorney, employed by the state, who conducts the hearing, makes sure the facts are brought out, and issues a written decision.
- The party who requests a hearing. An appellant can be an employee or employer.
- Attorney of Record
- A lawyer who has informed the hearing office that he/she is representing a party at a hearing.
- The questioning of a witness by the opposing party.
- The Department of Workforce Development, Unemployment Insurance Division.
- The first written decision from the department about an employee’s eligibility for benefits and/or an employer’s liability.
- Testimony and exhibits that the judge officially admits into the hearing record.
- Papers that relate to your case, which may include: payroll or attendance records, check stubs, letters, warnings, medical excuses, work rules, work schedules, reports; also, photographs, video or audio recordings, charts, etc.
- First Hand Witness
- A person who actually saw, said or heard what they are testifying.
- Hearing Record
- Evidence and recording of the hearing.
- Statements made by a witness who does not have firsthand knowledge of the facts.
- Medical Report
- A written, certified report used in place of a health care professional appearing in person at a hearing.
- Merits (Issues)
- The reasons why benefits are allowed or denied.
- Those whose rights might be affected by the outcome of a case. Parties at a hearing include:
- the employee seeking unemployment benefits
- the employer that is or may be charged for the payment of benefits
- Having a direct bearing on the merits of the case.
- The party who did not request a hearing.
- An order for a person to appear at the hearing.
- Verbal statements taken under oath at the hearing.
FORMS YOU MAY RECEIVE FROM THE DEPARTMENT
- Hearing Instructions and Documents (C)
- Tells you that a hearing will be held by telephone for one or both parties.
- Hearing Notice (F)
- Tells you the date, time, location, how you will participate in the hearing and other important information for the hearing.
WHAT IS AN UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (UI) HEARING?
You will be participating in a legal proceeding where testimony is taken under oath by an administrative law judge.
The proceeding is open to the public and is conducted to resolve issues about:
- whether an employee is eligible to receive unemployment benefits
- whether an employer’s unemployment insurance account will be charged for benefits.
Representation by an Attorney
The department does not furnish legal representation to parties. If you want to be represented by an attorney, you must arrange such representation yourself. Your attorney should contact the hearing office immediately upon being retained to indicate that he/she will be representing you at the hearing.
SCHEDULING A HEARING
Hearings are scheduled in the four UI hearing offices: Appleton, Eau Claire, Madison, and Milwaukee. Hearing office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The hearing office will try to schedule your hearing as soon as possible. This may be as soon as six days after you requested your hearing. However, there are times that you may have to wait several weeks for a hearing. Your hearing will be in person or by telephone.
The hearing office will send you a Hearing Notice (Form F) telling you:
- the date and time of the hearing (all hearings are scheduled Central time)
- the hearing location and how you are to participate (i.e., in person or by telephone)
- what issue(s) may be addressed at the hearing
- important hearing messages, if needed
Please read both sides of the Hearing Notice.
The hearing office will attempt to accommodate your scheduling requests but cannot promise a specific date and time for a hearing. If you are the appellant, include “unavailable” dates in your appeal letter. If you are the respondent, contact the hearing office with any scheduling conflicts immediately upon learning that a hearing has been/will be scheduled. If at all possible, please do not wait until the hearing is scheduled to notify the hearing office of conflicts.
Postponements of scheduled hearings are generally not given unless you can show exceptional circumstances that justifies delaying the proceedings. Requests for postponements cannot be made in writing. You must telephone the hearing office to discuss the particular facts that you believe require a postponement of the case.
If you need an interpreter, it is your obligation to inform the hearing office immediately. The hearing office uses its own interpreters (sign or language) during the hearing.
SPECIAL NEEDS REQUESTS
If you think you might need special arrangements (such as disability accommodations), immediately contact the hearing office.
In general, parties or witnesses who want to participate in a hearing by telephone must be located at least 40 miles from the hearing site. If you have been granted permission to participate by telephone, you must furnish the hearing office with the phone number at which you and/or your witnesses can be contacted for the hearing. At the time of the hearing, the hearing office will place a call to you and/or your witnesses at the number(s) furnished.
You will receive a Hearing Instructions and Document packet (Form C) before the hearing. If you have other documents that you want considered as exhibits, you should provide them to the hearing office and the other party at least 3 days prior to the hearing.
If the hearing office has scheduled a telephone hearing and you wish to appear at the hearing location in person, you must contact the hearing office in advance so that the appropriate preparations can be made.
IF YOU HAVE REQUESTED A HEARING AND CHANGE YOUR MIND
Only the party who requested the hearing (the appellant) may withdraw that request.
You can withdraw the request for a hearing at any time during the appeal process by mail, by fax, or by calling the hearing office. If you do withdraw your request, no further proceedings will be scheduled in the matter.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE HEARING
You may review the file on your case at the hearing office. Call the hearing office listed on the Hearing Notice first to make sure that the file will be available when you plan to arrive.
Review Your Materials before the Hearing
Gather together documents with pertinent information. The first time that you look at written materials for the hearing should not be during the hearing itself! Review your materials before the hearing. Write down questions and points that you want to make at the hearing.
ATTENDING THE HEARING
Be on Time
You should allow additional time to find the hearing office, park and walk to the building. If you are the appellant and you are late, your appeal may be dismissed. If you are the respondent and you are late, the hearing may be conducted without you.
Who Should Attend the Hearing
In most cases, both the appellant and the respondent should attend with their witnesses. If the appellant does not show up, a hearing will not be held. Your hearing notice will tell you if you are required to participate and, if so, by phone or in person.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A HEARING
The administrative law judge will control the hearing. It is the judge’s job to gather all the information needed to make a complete record and make a decision in your case.
The judge will identify persons in the room and explain how the hearing will work. The judge will identify the determination being appealed, define the issue(s), and may ask you to state your position.
The judge will decide the order of the witnesses who will give their testimony under oath. The judge may require a witness(es) or other person(s) to leave the room while others testify.
The judge will ask questions of any witnesses who are necessary for purposes of developing a record. The judge will give you an opportunity to ask questions of each of the witnesses at the appropriate time. During “cross-examination,” you are NOT permitted to make statements. You will not be allowed to argue or disrupt the hearing. You are only permitted to ask questions.
Each party will also have its opportunity to present documentary evidence. After the parties have had a chance to present evidence, the judge will close the hearing.
Once the hearing is closed, the judge can no longer discuss the case with you. It is important to present all of your evidence at the hearing. THE DECISION WILL BE BASED ONLY ON THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED AT THE HEARING. Information previously submitted to the department will not be considered by the judge unless you appear and present it. Any further appeal will only involve review of the record made at the hearing.
The hearing will be recorded. To make sure the recording is clear, speak loudly and clearly. If you want a copy of the hearing recording, call 608-266-3174.
Bring Witnesses with Personal, Firsthand Knowledge to the Hearing.
Witnesses at a hearing should have actually seen, said or heard what they are testifying to.
Do not expect to submit written statements of witnesses who are not present at the hearing because they will likely be considered “hearsay.” Although relevant "hearsay" documents may be admissible, a fact can't be proven with hearsay alone.
The rules of evidence at a hearing are like the rules in court. The judge cannot decide a case solely on hearsay testimony (statements made by a witness who does not have firsthand knowledge of the facts).
The judge may limit the number of witnesses to the same incident and will only allow testimony that is relevant to the case.
If a witness will not appear at a hearing voluntarily or you need certain documents for evidence at your hearing, you can request a subpoena from the hearing office. If you decide to have a lawyer represent you, that lawyer may also issue a subpoena and must send a copy to the hearing office.
Before calling the hearing office for a subpoena, have ready the witness(es)’ name(s), address(es), and the reason(s) why his/her testimony relates to your case. If documents are needed, have a detailed description of the documents and the name of the person who has firsthand knowledge of those documents. If the hearing office has granted your request for a subpoena, it will provide you with an instruction sheet concerning subpoenas.
Serving the Subpoena
If your request for a subpoena is granted, you are responsible for properly serving the subpoena before the hearing. You must also pay the witness(es) for appearing and cover mileage expenses of the witness(es) you subpoenaed. The judge will decide if you can be paid back for witness fees and mileage expenses. If you want to be repaid, you must request it.
Bring Copies of Any Written Materials You Want to Submit at the Hearing.
The evidence you submit must relate to the issue(s) of the case. Bring the original document and two copies with you to the hearing. The judge will decide what to accept as evidence. If you bring a video or audio recording, video evidence must be supplied to the hearing office in a .mp4 (MP4) format. All exhibits are left with the judge.
CERTIFIED MEDICAL REPORTS
If you are the employee, a report from the health care professional who is treating you may help decide your case. The employee may request or the department may send the employee a medical form to have the health care professional complete. This report should be returned by the due date on the form.
The person who completes the form does not have to be at the hearing, though you may subpoena (require) a health care professional to appear. An employer may also subpoena the health care professional or present its own report by a qualified expert for rebuttal purposes. That report must be certified to be included as evidence.
DEPARTMENT WITNESSES AND REPORTS
The administrative law judge may also take testimony from department staff or receive into the record a certified report from the department’s labor market database to make a decision. The report describes jobs, wages and other labor market conditions that may affect your case.
AFTER THE HEARING
The administrative law judge decides how the law applies to the facts of your case and issues a written decision. A copy of the decision is mailed to the parties, usually within two weeks of the hearing.
If a determination denying benefits is reversed, it may take two to four weeks for benefit checks to be mailed.
If a determination allowing benefits is reversed, an employee may be required to repay the benefits already received. If you were overpaid because of a departmental error, and you were not at fault, you may not have to repay the benefits.
IF YOU ARE LATE, DO NOT ATTEND, OR CANNOT BE CONTACTED FOR THE HEARING
For an “in person” hearing, the administrative law judge will wait 15 minutes for the appellant (the party requesting the hearing) to arrive before dismissing the appeal. Similarly, for a “telephone” hearing, if the appellant cannot be contacted within 15 minutes of the scheduled time, the appeal will be dismissed.
The dismissal decision issued in any case will become final, unless there is good cause (good reason beyond your control) for not attending.
For either “in person” or “telephone” hearings, the judge will proceed with the hearing if the respondent does not arrive or cannot be contacted within 5 minutes of the scheduled time.
Due to unforeseen delays, parties are expected to wait up to one hour from the scheduled time for the administrative law judge to start the hearing/call you.
IF YOU MISSED THE HEARING AND WANT ANOTHER HEARING
If you fail to attend your hearing, you must explain in writing why you did not appear. Your explanation should be mailed to the hearing office immediately. Make sure to provide the hearing number in your letter of explanation.
Your explanation for failing to attend the hearing will be reviewed, and a decision may be issued on that explanation only. If the reason for failing to attend the hearing was not for good cause, the administrative law judge will deny your request for another hearing. The hearing office may also schedule a hearing to decide if you had good cause for not appearing at the original hearing. If the failure to appear was with good cause, the judge may go on to the merits of the case or order a new hearing to take testimony at a later date on the merits of the case.
If a request for hearing/appeal is late (postmarked or received after the deadline):
- Your explanation for the late appeal will be reviewed, and a decision may be issued based on that explanation only. If the reason for the late appeal was not for reason beyond your control, the administrative law judge will dismiss the appeal.
- A hearing might be scheduled on the late appeal issue and the judge will decide if the late appeal was for a reason beyond your control. If the late appeal was for a reason beyond your control, the judge may go on to the merits of the case or order a new hearing to take testimony at a later date on the merits of the case.
If you disagree with the administrative law judge’s decision, you have 21 days from the date the decision is mailed to file an appeal for review by the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC). Your appeal must be postmarked or received by LIRC within those 21 days. LIRC will accept faxed appeals at 608-267-4409, and appeals filed online at http://lirc.wisconsin.gov/ui_appeal.htm.
If you are the employee and your appeal is pending, you should continue to file weekly claim certifications until the appeal process is over.
View or print UI calendars online at https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/calendars.htm.
Publication Number: UCL-4478-P
DWD is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. If you have a disability and need assistance with this information, please dial 7-1-1 for Wisconsin Relay Service. Please contact the Unemployment Insurance Division at 414-435-7069 to request information in an alternate format, including translated to another language.
Updated: October 25, 2017