Frequently Asked Questions About Unemployment Insurance Hearings

During a Hearing

1.What happens at a hearing?

Unemployment insurance hearings are public hearings, and interested members of the public may attend and observe hearings.

The hearing begins with the introduction of the administrative law judge, appearances and an explanation of the procedures. The issue for the hearing is explained and parties are asked brief position statements.

Testimony is taken under oath or affirmation, in order of burden of proof. Each party has the right to question their own witnesses (direct examination), the other party’s witnesses (cross-examination), and any departmental witness who might be called to testify.

Documents and other evidence may be marked as exhibits and, if those exhibits are received into evidence, the exhibits may be considered by the administrative law judge together with the testimony in making a decision.

The administrative law judge is responsible for controlling the hearing process and may make rulings about evidence. After both parties have had an opportunity to present evidence, the hearing is closed.

The administrative law judge will issue a written decision thereafter.

2. How long will the hearing last?

The average unemployment insurance hearing lasts between sixty and ninety minutes.

Depending on the complexity of the issues involved, hearings typically last anywhere from thirty minutes to a number of hours. It is rare, but possible, that a hearing will be continued, and require participation by the parties on more than one day.

Unemployment tax appeal hearings may be somewhat more complex and therefore may last longer than the average unemployment benefit appeal.

3. Will my statement be taken over the telephone separately from the employe(r)’s?

No, during a hearing both parties, if they choose to participate, appear together.

See What happens at a hearing?

4. Will someone from the unemployment insurance division represent me at my hearing?
No. Each party is responsible for his or her own representation. You may be your own representative or bring someone to represent you at the hearing.
5. Can the hearing be adjourned so that I can get an attorney?
Generally, no. Parties are expected to make arrangements for representation prior to the hearing date.
6. What if the day of the hearing arrives and I’m late, or I can’t make it?

If you are the party that appealed the determination, the administrative law judge may dismiss your appeal if you cannot be reached by phone or do not appear in person within fifteen minutes after the time the hearing was scheduled to start.

If you are the respondent, the hearing will begin without you if you cannot be reached by phone or do not appear in person within five minutes after the time the hearing was scheduled to start.

Another hearing on the merits will not be scheduled unless a party who failed to appear at the hearing shows good cause for the failure to appear.

The party wishing to demonstrate good cause for failing to appear must make a written request for a hearing on this issue, and the request must explain the reason for the failure to appear.

7. What if the administrative law judge is delayed?

If there have been unforeseen delays in the hearing schedule, you are expected to wait up to one hour at the hearing location for your hearing to begin.

As soon as practical, the administrative law judge will speak to you about the delay.

8. What if the administrative law judge dos not call on time?

If you have not heard from the administrative law judge within ten minutes of the scheduled start of the hearing, call the hearing office at the number listed on the hearing notice.

The hearing office will verify the number where you can be reached, and do its best to notify you when the hearing can be expected to begin.

9. Is video or audio recording allowed as evidence?

Yes. The party submitting the evidence must provide the equipment to play the recorded material at the hearing.

The party must also submit the recording(s) as part of the record while the appeal is pending. The material will be marked as an exhibit and will be kept with the hearing file. See When do I get my exhibits back?

Accuracy of reproduction is always important when pictorial evidence, such as a video recording, is presented at a hearing. The party offering the videographic evidence must establish that the pertinent parts of the video recording are a reasonably accurate representation of the subject pictured. The level of proof necessary to satisfy this general foundation requirement depends on the circumstances under which the recording was prepared and the reason it is offered at the hearing.

  • Where the recording is used as a representation of a live witness’ testimony about what he or she actually observed ("illustrative" or "demonstrative" evidence)
    Illustrative evidence may be authenticated by a witness (not necessarily the videographer) who testifies that he or she knows the scene or series of events depicted, and that the recording is a fair and accurate representation of the scene.
  • Where the recording is offered despite the fact that no witness actually viewed the events portrayed ("substantive" or "real" evidence)
    An example of this category would be a video recording from an unmanned surveillance camera. The video recording in this case may be authenticated based upon reliance of the basic principles of videography, strengthened by assurances that the equipment used and procedures followed were proper. This may include testimony about how the unmanned video camera is placed, how the recording was handled from the time of its removal from the machine ("chain of custody"), internal indicators of time and date, and what the background scenery in the video recording portrays.
10. Can I testify about a document or video I have seen?

Yes, you can testify under oath as to what is contained in a document or video recording, but it is preferable to bring the actual document or recording itself. Copies generally will be accepted as exhibits, but the originals should be brought to the hearing whenever possible to verify the authenticity of the duplicated materials. Alternatively, if just a copy is brought in, you or your witness may be asked to verify that the copy is a true and accurate rendering of the original.

Keep in mind that if you choose to testify as to the contents of a document or video recording rather than bring in the document or video recording, the administrative law judge may not give much weight to your testimony or may discredit it altogether.

11. Why do I have to present witnesses in person?

A signed statement (even if notarized) or an affidavit cannot substitute for the personal appearance of a witness. A witness must be present at the hearing, sworn in, and subject to questioning by the administrative law judge and to cross-examination by the other party.

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