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Appeals Division Video: "Preparing For An Appeal Hearing" Text Transcription

REFEREE This is a hearing in the case of Ms. Claire Christman.  My name is Arthur Johnson.  I am the Appeals Referee with the Employment Security Appeals Division.  I am here to hear and decide this case.  Present at today’s hearing are Ms. Christman, the Claimant, and Mr. Sam Everett, Co-Owner of Emily’s Café.

We are here today because the employer, Emily’s Café, appealed the decision of the local unemployment office to award benefits to Ms. Christman.

I will make a new decision in this case and I will base my decision on the evidence presented at today’s hearing. I’m not bound in any way to follow the local unemployment office’s decision.

As you can see, this hearing is being tape recorded.  Witnesses will take an oath to tell the truth and if you have any documents that you want considered, each document will be marked as an exhibit before being considered.

Now, as for how this hearing works…Basically, all testimony is taken by questions and answers.  I’ll ask each of you questions.  Then when I finish, each of you will have time to ask each other any questions.  Now, is there anything about this procedure which you don’t understand?

CHRISTMAN When do I get to ask questions?
REFEREE I’ll help you keep track of when it’s your time to ask or answer questions.
NARRATOR The scene you just witnessed is the beginning of an unemployment compensation appeal hearing, like the hearing you will attend.  This program is designed to help you prepare for that hearing.  Keep in mind that what you are about to see are short depictions of real hearings.  Your hearing will be longer and go into greater detail.

Federal and State Law entitle you to a fair hearing if you disagree with a local unemployment office’s decision to grant or deny benefits.  A fair hearing means an impartial Appeals Referee will decide your case, after considering all of your testimony and evidence.  The Employment Security Appeals Division will assign an Appeals Referee to hear your case.  It’s their job to make sure you understand the proceedings…and have the time you need to present any information relevant to your case.  But there’s a lot you can do before your hearing to make sure you’re ready.


First, a few basic ground rules:  It is very important that you be on time for your hearing.  If you don’t show up, you will likely lose.


You should bring witnesses and any documents or other evidence which could help you with your case…even if these documents or witnesses were presented before at the local unemployment office.


In order to keep your hearing truly impartial and independent of your local unemployment office, only evidence presented at the appeals hearing will be considered. This is very important. Papers, letters, statements…any evidence that was presented at the local office will normally be introduced as an exhibit at the appeals hearing.  To be safe however, you should bring extra copies of these and any other relevant documents with you.


If there was only one point that we could make at this time it would be “Prepare!”  This appeal hearing will likely be your last opportunity to present your case, so do it thoroughly.  Right now, let’s go back to the hearing we were watching.  In this case, the former employee believes she was fired.  The employer disagrees and says she quit.  The appeals referee will decide, after hearing the evidence.  Now, as you watch the hearing, ask yourself whether the people involved are properly prepared.

REFEREE Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the truth to the best of your knowledge and belief?
REFEREE When did you work at Emily’s Café?
CHRISTMAN Up until June 5th… for six months.
REFEREE You were a waitress?
REFEREE What were your hours?
CHRISTMAN I worked 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
REFEREE Who was responsible for scheduling your hours?
CHRISTMAN Emily, the boss, she always put up the schedule on Fridays before the weekend.  But I always had the same schedule.
REFEREE What was the next day you were scheduled to work after June 5th?
CHRISTMAN I never was.  Emily took my name off the schedule.  Like I said, I worked pretty regular hours and I generally don’t check the schedule unless I know there is going to be some change.  So anyway, I got a call on Saturday night from Helen, she’s another waitress, and she said Emily, my boss, had taken my name off the schedule.  She said Emily told her that she wasn’t going to schedule me anymore.  So I tried to contact Emily that weekend but she was in Boston.  So, on Sunday I went in to check it out and my name wasn’t on the schedule.  So, Monday I went and filed for unemployment.
REFEREE Why didn’t you ask Helen to come here and testify?
CHRISTMAN Helen?  Why would I?  I mean, she’d say the same thing I just did!  I didn’t think it was necessary.  Besides, she still works there and coming here to get in an argument with her boss…I didn’t think she’d do it!
REFEREE OK.  Is there anything else?
REFEREE Mr. Everett, do you have any questions of Ms. Christman?
EVERETT She’s wrong, Emily never said she was fired!
REFEREE Mr. Everett, this is your opportunity to ask questions.  In a minute I’ll hear your testimony.
EVERETT OK.  Did you hear Emily say you were fired?
CHRISTMAN Well ...... No.
EVERETT OK.  Didn’t you tell Helen you were going to quit anyway because it was too hard to work and take care of your son?
CHRISTMAN No.  I’ve complained about how hard it is to work and raise a child …but I never said I was gonna quit.  Don’t you go trying to lay this on me.
EVERETT What?  What are you talking about?
CHRISTMAN You know exactly what I’m talking about …
REFEREE Ms. Christman ... Mr. Everett ... We’re just here to gather the facts, not have an argument.  So, unless you have any other questions of Ms. Christman, Mr. Everett, I think we can go ahead to your testimony.
EVERETT OK.  Nope ... No, I have no further questions.  But I don’t care what she says, she quit ... didn’t fire ...
REFEREE Mr. Everett, you’ll have all the time you need to tell your story.  But first I must swear you in.  Will you raise your right hand?  Will you swear or affirm that the testimony that you are about to give is the truth to the best of your knowledge and belief?
REFEREE What is your position at Emily’s Café?
EVERETT I’m the general manager and co-owner along with Emily, my wife.
REFEREE And who is responsible for making the schedule of the waitresses?
REFEREE Was Ms. Christman scheduled to work the week of Monday, June 7?
EVERETT No, she would have been if she called in or come in on the 7th, instead of filing for unemployment.  Emily did take her off for a week just so she’d sit up and take notice.  I mean, she was coming in late and leaving early way too often.  We were fed up.  But Emily never fired her…and she never said that to Helen.
REFEREE Why isn’t Emily here today to testify as to what she told Helen?
EVERETT It’s nine in the morning ... we’re busy.  It was easier for me to come.
REFEREE Yes, but she was the one who had the conversation.  So her testimony would be more reliable…she was there.  Ok, is there anything else?
EVERETT No.  That’s it.  We just wanted her to pay attention.  Come in on time.  You know!
REFEREE Ms. Christman, any questions?
CHRISTMAN Why didn’t you call me and tell me that I was off the schedule?
EVERETT Well we figured you would come in at your regular time on Monday and we would discuss it.  I think you’re more interested in collecting unemployment than you are in keeping your job!
CHRISTMAN That’s not true!
REFEREE If you have no other questions Ms. Christman ... Now that you’ve heard Mr. Everett’s testimony…do you have anything else to add?
CHRISTMAN Well ... Like I said ... they were just looking for a way to get rid of people!
EVERETT That’s a lie.  We laid off one waitress and that’s it.
REFEREE Mr. Everett….Ms. Christman…..Do either of you have anything new to add?
EVERETT No ..... I guess not.
REFEREE OK.  That being the case, this hearing is officially closed.  Based on the evidence presented at this hearing I will be making a decision in writing which you both will receive in the mail.  And I thank you for your participation.
REFEREE This is a case of poor preparation on the part of both these people.  Ms. Christman could and should have brought Helen here to testify that she heard Emily say that she was fed up with Christman and was not going to schedule her anymore.  And Mr. Everett should perhaps have stayed at the café and sent Emily instead, since Emily had more direct information about this case.  It’s important to think these things through.  Both these people were relying on what someone else had told them, Ms Christman heard from Helen; Mr. Everett heard from his wife.  That’s called hearsay….and it’s admissible as evidence but it’s not as reliable as testimony from someone who directly witnessed the events.
NARRATOR As you can see, an appeal hearing is carefully controlled by the appeals referee.  This is done to make sure each person has the same opportunity to present their case.  Here some important points:

(GRAPHICS): Hearing Notice

Once the Appeals Division receives an appeal, it will be scheduled promptly.  You will be sent a notice stating when and where the hearing is to take place.  Read this notice carefully.  Like this video, it will help you prepare for your hearing.  Carefully note the date, time, and location of your hearing.  If you are unable to attend, you may request a postponement of the hearing.  Postponements are granted only for good cause, such as a serious illness or an emergency.  Our telephone number is right on the notice. Granting of a postponement is at the discretion of the Appeals Division.  Late requests will usually be denied.


You are expected to provide your own competent interpreter if one is needed.  If you or any witness you expect to bring does not speak English well and you cannot obtain an interpreter, call us immediately.  If you have other special needs, you should also call us immediately.


You may be represented by a lawyer if you choose.  However, you will receive equal treatment whether you hire a lawyer or not.  If you feel your case is complicated and you’re uncomfortable presenting it yourself, you have the right to have a lawyer present, at your own expense.  If you feel you need a lawyer but cannot afford one, you may contact any Appeals Division office or Job Center for a list of organizations that may provide free or reduced cost representation to qualified persons.


A subpoena to compel the attendance of uncooperative parties is possible if they are critical to your case.  The same applies to records that you can not otherwise obtain.  If you feel you need a subpoena, notify the Appeals Division immediately.  The appeals referee will determine whether the subpoena is necessary.

Let’s take a look at another hearing.  This time you’ll notice both a witness and a lawyer are present.  Once again, notice whether the participants seem prepared.

REFEREE Ms. Soule, do you swear that the testimony you are about to give is true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
REFEREE Ms. Soule, what was your position at the nursing home?
SOULE I was a unit coordinator.
REFEREE And what were your major responsibilities?
SOULE I had to supervise nurses and aides.  Keep records of resident care.  And sometimes help with the care myself.
REFEREE Would you explain your reason for leaving.
SOULE Well, it started when I injured by back my second week of work.  I was helping lift a patient out of her wheelchair into bed when I felt this pain in my back.  I said something to Joan Abromson, a nurse’s aide who was helping me….and then I went back to work.  I didn’t think it would be so bad…and it kind of wasn’t for a day or two…but it kept getting worse.  And then one day I just couldn’t stay on my feet so I called in sick.  I felt a little better the next day so I went back to work.  But after that it just kept coming back.
REFEREE Did you see a doctor?
SOULE Yes, Dr. John Morgan.  His comments are in this letter.
REFEREE I will mark this as claimant exhibit number 1.  Mr. Osgood, I believe you were sent a copy of this letter?
OSGOOD Yes, I’ve seen it.
JORDAN As attorney, I object.  This letter is hearsay.  Dr. Morgan is not here for questioning, so I don’t see how we can accept this letter.
REFEREE Let me review the letter.  It’s a diagnosis of Ms. Soule’s back condition and course of treatment.  It is sufficiently reliable.  The doctor has no interest in the outcome of this case.  It contains medical diagnostic information.  I will overrule your objection.

Ms. Soule what effect did your back condition have on your ability to work?

SOULE Some days my back was OK, other days not so well.  I came in when I could, and then he started hassling me, threatening to fire me, so I left,
REFEREE Would you explain what you mean when you say he hassled you?
SOULE He kept threatening to fire me if I didn’t show up for work every day.  I injured myself at work and I figure I should be able to get well without being hassled.
REFEREE How many times ... did he, as you put it, threaten to fire you?
SOULE Practically every day I worked.
REFEREE Is there anything else Ms. Soule?
REFEREE Mr. Jordan, any questions?
JORDAN Yes.  Isn’t it true you didn’t file a workers’ comp claim until a week later than you say the injury occurred?
SOULE Yes, but as I said, I .....
JORDAN Just answer the question Yes or No.
REFEREE Ms. Soule may complete her answer.  Did you wait a week?
SOULE Yes ... as I said, I just didn’t think it was that serious.
JORDAN I have no other questions.
REFEREE OK.  Ms. Soule, you may bring in your witness.
REFEREE Ms. Abromson, what was your relationship to Ms. Soule?
ABROMSON I worked with her on the East Wing….Actually I worked for her…She was the unit coordinator.
REFEREE As I understand it, on February 23rd, Ms. Soule helped you lift someone from a wheelchair into bed.
ABROMSON That’s right.
REFEREE Tell me what happened.
ABROMSON Well, Cathy was on the patient’s right side and I was on the left and we were lifting her from under the arms, like we’re trained to do, and Cathy made a little sound… “OW” like that.  And then she grabbed her back.  So I asked her what was wrong, and she said, “My back.”  And so I got someone else to help me and Cathy went out front.
REFEREE Did she make any comments later that day or within the next few days?
REFEREE Is there anything else?
ABROMSON No, I don’t think so.
REFEREE OK.  Ms. Soule, would you like to question your witness?
SOULE Yes.  Joan do you recall my mentioning to you Mr. Osgood’s threats to fire me?
ABROMSON Well, I recall you saying something like that.  You said he was on your case.  I don’t remember exactly what words you used, but I think I recall you saying that Mr. Osgood was upset with you.
SOULE Thank you.  No other questions.
REFEREE Mr. Jordan, do you have any questions for Ms. Abromson?
JORDAN Yes.  Ms. Abromson, isn’t it true that Ms. Soule never complained to you about back pain after that incident?
ABROMSON Well I guess so. But why would she complain to me?  I’m not her supervisor.
REFEREE (To Osgood) Do you swear that the testimony you are about to give is true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
REFEREE (To Jordan) Mr. Jordan, I’ll be asking some initial questions and then you may ask your questions.
REFEREE Mr. Osgood, would you begin by telling me exactly how often Ms. Soule was absent?
OSGOOD Well, if you look at her employee file (employer’s exhibit #1) you can see that Ms. Soule missed work every one to two weeks.  She’d only been with us for three months and in her position we needed someone that was at work regularly.  When it became clear that she was suffering from back pain, we offered her other work which wouldn’t stress her back, but she declined.
REFEREE Is there anything else?
OSGOOD Well yes, she claims that I hassled her, and that’s not true.  I simply told her ... on two different occasions ... that we needed her at work ... and ... as you can see ... both those conversations are noted in her employment file.  And that’s all there is to it.
REFEREE OK.  Thank you, Mr. Osgood.  Mr. Jordan, do you have any additional questions?
JORDAN Yes.  Mr. Osgood, when Ms. Soule quit, were you given any medical evidence to support her claim that she injured herself at work.
JORDAN No further questions.
REFEREE OK.  Ms. Soule, do you have any questions for Mr. Osgood?
SOULE No ... No questions.
REFEREE Well thank you.  If neither of you have any additional questions or comments, this hearing is closed.
REFEREE Both Mr. Osgood and Ms. Soule were very well prepared.  Ms. Soule knew the facts and brought a witness…someone who had actually seen the incident in which she contends she was injured.  Although the employer brought a lawyer and she didn’t, she presented her case very well.  Mr. Osgood knew the facts too, and he brought Ms. Soule’s employee file as evidence.  Each of them did as much as they could to present the facts that would help their case.
NARRATOR You’ve now seen parts of two different in-person hearings.  Some hearings, however, do not take place in-person but rather…take place over the telephone.

(Telephone Hearing Split-Screen)

TELEPHONE APPEALS REFEREE Mr. Farmer, can you tell me exactly how you injured your back at the store?
NARRATOR In a telephone hearing, the same procedures apply, except that testimony is taken by phone.  The Appeals Referee conducts the hearing in the same way, using the question and answer format…and you have the same opportunities to present your case…and question the other people involved.  And one other important point:  If yours will be a telephone hearing, any documents or other similar types of evidence you’d like to present must be mailed to the referee and the opposing party before the hearing.  Telephone hearings are the exception, not the rule.  The preferred method is the in-person hearing.  Telephone hearings, however are granted for cause such as an individual who lives out of state or is otherwise unavailable.  The granting or denying of a telephone hearing is at the discretion of the Appeals Division.  The hearing notice will advise you if the hearing is to be conducted by telephone and will provide you with the information needed to take part.


Now let’s review. First of all:  Prepare!  Think through your case.  Ask yourself what information, documents, and witnesses will help establish the facts in your favor.  And make sure you know the relevant dates of key events.  Choose witnesses who have direct, personal knowledge or experience of events about the case.  If you’re an employer, don’t just bring a personnel director because they fired the worker.  Bring the supervisor or someone who saw or heard what happened to cause the firing.  If you’re a claimant, don’t bring your spouse because they know you’re telling the truth, bring a witness to key events…someone who can help support your case.  Remember, a witness who can be questioned will carry more weight than a written statement.


Stick to the facts.  Emotions usually just cloud the issue and prevent you from presenting your case best.


Organize the facts on paper.  Make a list of the important dates and the points you’d like to make to support your case.


Then make another list of the points you think the opposing party may make.  Consider what you will say or ask in response.


If you have any questions or special needs, please refer to the Appeals Guide that will be mailed to you prior to the hearing.  If you are still unsure of what to do, call us immediately. Our telephone number is on the top of the hearing notice.

Remember, the hearings you have seen are merely a depiction of what will actually take place at your hearing.  They are meant to give you a sense of what will occur, to help you better prepare.  In the end, if you pay attention to these few details, you should be as prepared as you can possibly be on the day of your hearing.


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