As many of us know, unemployment hearings can be a process that is time consuming and emotionally frustrating. Regardless of the outcome of the hearing, there are multiple appeal procedures (varying by state), that can add complexity to the process. Throughout the process, we need to proactively prepare and submit information prior to attending the hearing.
Below are 6 considerations when preparing for an unemployment hearing:
- Take the hearing and process seriously. Submit all forms and required information timely and follow the guidelines as outlined by the state.
- Ensure witnesses are prepared to make statements and answer any potential questions asked during the hearing. Do not call a supervisor in right before the hearing starts. They need to prepare, review information and practice questions prior to the hearing.
- Be very organized with information and paperwork. Have all the information you need for the hearing organized and near you for the call/hearing. Taking valuable time to find information and personnel files slows the process and can frustrate the judge.
- Practice makes improved. Practice asking questions, understanding what the answer could be and asking follow-up questions. Remember that the employee will also ask questions, prepare for these potential questions as well. Practice makes us sound more organized, and it will streamline the hearing procedure.
- Active listening. Be prepared to actively listen to the defense, write down inconsistencies or improper testimony and use this information to cross-examine. It can strengthen your case. Stick to the facts!
- Respect and the closing statement. Address the judge as “Your Honor” and continue to show respect throughout the process. Do not talk over the judge or defendant. Prepare a closing statement. Many employers will pass on the closing statement, due to lack of preparation. This is a great opportunity to summarize the evidence presented and petition the judge to rule in the organizations favor. Practicing the closing statement will ensure information is communicated clearly and effectively.
Unemployment hearings can be a very emotional process. We need to control the emotion in the room and stick to the facts, through preparation and accuracy. The more we practice, the better prepared we will be to cross-examine and actively listen. Follow the process; send the information as requested by the state, submit any follow-up information as requested during or after the hearing and ask the judge when a ruling is expected. If you do lose an unemployment hearing, do not be afraid to appeal the ruling by following the process, as outlined by the state. Keep in mind the soft costs associated with appealing, preparing and fighting unemployment. If you have questions preparing or working through the process, ask for assistance, unemployment hearings can be a timely, frustrating and complex process.