What can I expect at an unemployment appeal hearing in Kentucky?
At the hearing, the goal is to present evidence that will prove your case. For example:
If you are an employer you will probably want to prove that the employee either voluntarily quit without good cause or was discharged for misconduct connected to their employment.
If you are an employee, you will probably want to prove that you either voluntarily quit with good cause or you were fired ( discharged , laid off) for reasons other than misconduct connected with your work.
What kind of evidence do you need?
The answer is simple, you need any evidence that proves your case. For example, reports and records of warnings or disciplinary actions, employee handbook, records of absences, doctor's statements are all possible evidentiary documents. What if you do not have any evidence and only have testimony? Not all cases have documents introduced by every party.
The real question is what evidence is legally sufficient to establish good cause or misconduct. Keep in mind that what you think is good cause or misconduct may not be the same as the legal meaning for these terms. The Office of Employment and Training's website has quite a bit of information available to the public. If after reviewing their website, you are not confident that you understand the law and proof required to win your case consider hiring an attorney to represent you at the hearing. I represent clients in unemployment hearings and can be contacted at (502) 561-3455.
The hearing itself is informal and you may represent yourself. The hearing will either be conducted by telephone or at the your local unemployment office. Each party and any witnesses will be sworn in before giving testimony. Generally, the employer goes first to present their evidence, but this is not always the case. For example, in a voluntary quit situation, the employee usually goes first. In the standard case, the hearing officer asks questions and then gives the employer the opportunity to present its case. The employee then can ask their own questions. The employer will call any witnesses that they have and all parties can ask the witness questions in turn. After the employer presents their case, the employee presents their evidence and any witnesses that they have brought. The Referee asks questions of the employee, then the employee presents their evidence and finally the employer asks questions. The hearing officer gives each party an opportunity to sum up their case.
NOTE: The hearing officer will solicit information concerning pay rate, date of hire and date of discharge or last date worked at the hearing. Have this information ready.
Keep in mind that the time allotted for hearings are no more than one hour. So keep your evidence brief and to the point. This is not the time to air all of your grievances against the other party.
Hearing notes: If you are scheduled for a telephonic hearing, you must provide copies of your evidence to both the unemployment hearing officer and the opposing party (employer/employee) before the day of the hearing or you will not be able to introduce the evidence. The hearing notice will give you specific details. Follow the instructions in the hearing notice carefully. If you are attending a hearing at your local office, you can bring the evidence with you to the hearing. Make copies for the hearing officer and the other side.
Subpoenas for witnesses or records may be issued prior to the hearing, if necessary. The unemployment office requires that your request for a subpoena be made in "sworn statements setting forth the name and address of the party to be subpoenaed, the information the party may present at the hearing, and the need for the information." This process usually delays the hearing by at least a month.
Do I need to hire a lawyer to represent me at the unemployment hearing? Only you can decide if hiring a lawyer is in your best interest. However, If the initial determination does not make sense, then you should consider hiring a lawyer. For example, If you think you were fired and they now say you voluntarily quit, the case may be more complicated than you realize. Sick leave cases often fall into this category. While to you it may be obvious that you were fired, the referee or the commission may find that you constructively quit and are not entitled to benefits. Whether you get benefits often depends on what evidence is presented. Keep in mind that the best chance you have to prove your case is at the Referee's hearing. If you lose at the Referee's hearing and then appeal, at the next stage, they will only look at the evidence that was presented in the Referee's hearing. At later stages, a court would look at whether the Commission had substantial evidence to support the decision. You generally do not get a second chance to prove your case. Also, consider the cost of hiring an attorney and the amount of money at stake if you lose. If you are having trouble getting a new job you may need the income to survive. Of course, paying for a lawyer is an added expense at a difficult time.. Also having a lawyer does NOT mean that you will win. This is a difficult decision but the bottom line is whether you believe you have a better chance on your own or with a lawyer.
Am I required to hire a lawyer to represent me in an unemployment hearing? No. You may choose to represent yourself at the unemployment appeal hearing. However, keep in mind that the Referee's hearing involves sworn testimony and the Referee makes their decision based upon Kentucky law and prior case decisions that the Kentucky Unemployment Commission call either precedent or advisory. It is important to understand what must be proven in order to win your case before the hearing and to plan the best way to present your evidence. If you lose at the Referee's hearing you can appeal but you generally do not get to present new evidence. Keep in mind that the best chance you have to prove your case is at the Referee's hearing.
When should I hire a lawyer? If you choose to obtain legal representation, the sooner the better.
Can I wait and see if I win at the referee's hearing and then hire a lawyer if I lose there? This is not recommended as the hearing is your best chance of winning and legal assistance at this level can be critical to your case. Therefore, while not recommended, yes, you can wait . Some lawyers will not take a case if they did not handle the hearing. More importantly, after the Referee's hearing, you generally do not get to present new evidence during the appeal. Decisions made in appeals to the commission are based upon a review of the recording of the hearing and whether the Referee's decision was supported by substantial evidence.
Do you take cases on appeal from the referee's decision? I will evaluate a case if the individual has obtained a copy of the recorded hearing. I charge for this service and will not consider your case without a copy of the recording of the hearing. If you did not think the hearing went well, or if you get the decision and have lost, immediately request a copy of the hearing by contacting the APPEALS, BENEFITS AND TECHNICAL SERVICES BRANCH at 502-564-2900. They usually require a letter with Your name, the opposing party's name, the date and time of the hearing, the claimant's SS #, the Appeal # and a blank CD upon which the recording is copied.
What is the law? Kentucky unemployment insurance law can be found at KRS Chapter 341
I just have a quick question... I will be happy to listen to your story and answer your legal questions but I charge for this service. I can be reached at (502) 561-3455 For those individuals who do not want to pay for legal services, you will want to conduct your own research and learn as much as you can before you have your hearing. Here are a few helpful sites:
Kentucky Supreme Court and Court of Appeals searchable decisions-
Disclaimer The content you find on this site is for informational purposes only. No information you gathered from this web site should be construed as legal advice. Your use of, or reading any information contained in this web site, or your contacting my office, is in no way to be construed as the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. See full disclaimer.
If you would like to retain an attorney for your hearing, I can be contacted at:
Patricia A. Abell |Attorney at Law | The Normandy Building | 101 North Seventh St. | Louisville, KY 40202 | Phone: (502)561-3455 | firstname.lastname@example.org