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Unemployment Insurance Appeals
How to Prepare and Present Your Case
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How does the hearing process begin?
When either the claimant or the employer files an appeal from an agency representative’s decision, your case is scheduled for a hearing with an administrative law judge from the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Section. The judge listens to each side and makes a decision on the issues in the case. The hearing is formal because legal procedures are used. Hearings are usually conducted via telephone conference call. Each party is asked to call a toll-free telephone number and tell the Appeals Section the telephone number at which they can be reached at the time of the hearing. Witnesses testify under oath and in the order set by the judge. Each party has the right to ask questions of the witnesses. Documents can be submitted as evidence, and are typically mailed or faxed to the other parties prior to the day of the hearing. The hearings are tape-recorded.
I won after the fact-finding interview. Why should I participate in this hearing?
The hearing is to decide whether the decision of the agency representative who did the fact-finding should be reversed. The judge who does the hearing does not automatically consider the information provided to the fact-finder. The hearing record includes the witnesses’ verbal testimony and any documents accepted by the judge during the hearing. The hearing record is the only information reviewed if the judge's decision is appealed. The hearing is important since it is the only chance you have to present the facts of your case. You will not be allowed to provide information to the judge regarding your case either before or after the time the hearing record is open. As a claimant who won after the fact-finding, you could be required to repay benefits you have been paid since the fact-finding if the judge reverses the agency representative’s decision.
How and where will the hearing be held?
Most hearings (more than 90%) are held by telephone conference call, but occasionally the circumstances of a case require an in-person hearing. An in-person hearing is usually held at the nearest Workforce Development Center. If you object to a telephone hearing, you must make a written request for an in-person hearing. The Notice of Hearing will include the address where an in-person hearing will be held. If you request an in-person hearing, you can expect an additional delay before a hearing is scheduled and a decision is reached. A notice for a telephone hearing lists the telephone number you must call prior to the time of your hearing. In a telephone hearing the parties and their witnesses testify over the telephone. Everyone is able to hear the witnesses, and the parties can ask the witnesses questions.
What happens if I don’t call in prior to the hearing or am not on time?
If you do not call in or are late for the hearing, the judge may be unable to consider your side of the story. For telephone hearings, the judge will not contact you and include you in the hearing unless you have called the Appeals Section prior to the hearing. When you call, you must give the telephone number at which you may be reached. Your call will be noted in a telephone log and you will be given a specific control number to verify that you did call. The information from your call is given to the judge. The judge uses only that information to contact you at the time of hearing, even if you were previously contacted directly by other agency representatives.
Can a hearing be postponed or the appeal withdrawn?
If you are unable to participate in the hearing as scheduled, call the Appeals Section right away (in Iowa toll-free:
(800) 532-1483) to request a postponement. The hearing will be postponed only for good cause. The request for a postponement should be made at least three days before the hearing. If you have requested a hearing and later decide not to proceed with your hearing, in most instances your appeal may be withdrawn any time before the hearing. You should mail a letter withdrawing your appeal to the Appeals Section as soon as possible so the other party can be notified that the hearing is canceled.
Do I need a lawyer?
You have the right to be present and represent yourself at the hearing. Under Iowa law an attorney or other authorized individual may represent you. The judge is trained to conduct hearings where one or both parties are not represented. You need to decide whether to have a representative or attorney at the hearing. If you decide to hire an attorney, do so right away and notify the appeals office. Your lawyer will need time to prepare your case before the hearing. If you hire an attorney, it will be at your own expense. You may be eligible for legal assistance through one of the state's legal services programs if your income and resources are limited.
What happens at the hearing?
Carefully read the Notice of Hearing. The notice tells what the case is about and the laws or rules involved in the case. Although it is basically informal, the hearing is an actual legal proceeding and is more formal than the fact-finding interview you may have had with the agency representative who issued the decision being appealed. The exact procedure will vary depending on the nature of the case, but follow these basic guidelines:
The hearing will start at the time shown on the Notice of Hearing. For a telephone hearing, be available at the phone number you provided. For an in-person hearing, appear on time.
At the beginning of the hearing, the judge explains the hearing process, the issues to be decided and the order of testimony. The witnesses are sworn. The parties, in the order specified by the judge, present their cases by testifying, calling other witnesses and presenting documents or other evidence.
After each witness testifies, the other party can ask questions of the witness. This is not a time to argue with the witness or make comments about the testimony -- it is a chance to question the witness to verify the accuracy of the testimony or obtain information that is helpful to your case. The judge may also ask questions of the parties and their witnesses during the hearing.
After the parties are finished presenting information and asking questions of the witnesses, the judge closes the hearing. Normally, no additional information is accepted after the hearing record is closed.
Do I need witnesses and other evidence?
If you believe the other party's testimony will be different from yours, you may want to have witnesses or other evidence to help your case. Talk to potential witnesses before the hearing to find out what they know about your case. You should only present witnesses at the hearing who have personal knowledge of the facts. A person who did not observe what happened or whose memory is bad is a poor witness. Use only witnesses you really need. If you have several people who would say the same thing, use the person who can best state the facts. Make sure your witnesses are available to participate at the time set for the hearing. If witnesses who are needed for your case refuse to appear, a subpoena ordering them to appear for the hearing can be issued.
If you have documents or evidence you need to prove your case, mail or fax copies to the Appeals Section promptly after you receive the Notice of Hearing. If you send documents fewer than five business days prior to the hearing, also send copies of the documents directly to the other party. If you want any of these documents considered by the judge in making a decision, ask the judge to mark the documents as exhibits in your case at the hearing. Parties should cooperate in exchanging information before the hearing. If the other party will not give you documents you need to prove your case, you may have a subpoena issued for the information.
Requests to subpoena witnesses or documents should be made to the Appeals Section in writing as soon as you receive the Notice of Hearing. You must state why the witness or document is important to your case and why the person or document is not available without the subpoena. In deciding whether to grant or deny the subpoena, the judge will consider if your request is reasonable and if the witnesses or documents are necessary. You must supply the name and home address of any witness you want subpoenaed and describe the documents you need in your request. Subpoenaed witnesses who appear at a hearing are paid witness fees and mileage for each mile traveled in Iowa going to and from the place of the hearing. Workforce Development pays the costs for issuing subpoenas and pays the witness fees and mileage after the witness submits a payment voucher.
How can I best present my case?
Listen to what the judge tells you. If you do not understand, ask questions before the hearing starts. Make sure you understand the issues for the hearing. Explain the facts of your case in a clear and orderly way, and give only the facts that are important. Don't waste time on things that have nothing to do with the issues in the case. Do not repeat yourself. If the judge or the other party asks a question, answer it directly and honestly -- don't add extra information. Be prepared to ask your witnesses questions to present their testimony to the judge. Listen to what the other side says. Do not interrupt. You will get your turn to ask questions and respond after the witness finishes testifying. Take notes so you can ask good questions and properly respond to the testimony. You should ask the other side questions only about important matters where the testimony can help your case. If you don’t have any questions for the other side that you believe will provide information which will assist the judge in making the decision, don’t ask any. It is important that the judge believes you are telling the truth. Getting angry, being rude or arguing with the other party, witnesses or the judge will not help your case. Individuals who are disruptive may be expelled from the hearing.
What happens after the hearing?
The final decision will be mailed to the parties as soon as possible after the hearing. The decision will state the important facts of the case, the legal conclusions and reasons for the decision, and an order stating the result of the decision. The decision may disqualify the claimant from receiving unemployment insurance benefits or may allow the claimant benefits that may be chargeable to the employer.
Do I have further appeal rights?
If you think the judge's decision is wrong, you can appeal it by filing an appeal of the decision with the Employment Appeal Board within 15 days from the date of the decision. The appeal should be sent to the Board at 4th Floor, Lucas Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. The Board’s decision may be further appealed to District Court within 30 days of the date of the Board’s decision. Decisions of the District Court may be appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court. If you have any questions about filing an appeal of an administrative decision, consult an attorney.
How do I contact the Appeals Section?
Toll-free in Iowa: 800-532-1483
Toll-free outside of Iowa: 800-247-5205
Des Moines local: 515-281-3747
Correspondence or exhibits may be mailed to:
Iowa Workforce Development
1000 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50319-0209
Unemployment Insurance Site
Unemployment Insurance Appeals
Unemployment Insurance Division Home Page
Workforce Development Home Page