FAQs

FAQs

menu-1909982_1280

This information is a general overview of unemployment benefits law. This is not legal advice. An attorney is your best source of advice for your specific case.

We know that most people will represent themselves at their unemployment hearing. And some people will even go on to represent themselves at an appeal in state court.  For help with preparing your case, please see the links below or call our helpline at (206) 441-9178 x10 or toll free 1(888) 441-9178 x10 to schedule an appointment with our helpline staff.

**We also provide several self-help PRINT OFF documents, click here to choose the applicable self-help document.

General

Hearings

After the hearing

After the Commissioner’s decision

Training while collecting unemployment benefits

May I appeal the denial of unemployment benefits?

Yes.  After your initial interview with the Claims Telecenter, you will receive a written notice by mail that will allow or deny your unemployment benefits.  This written notice is called the determination letter.  If you have been denied benefits, you have the right to appeal.  If you have been allowed benefits, your former employer has the same right to appeal.  If either you or your employer appeals, you will have a hearing before an administrative law judge.

TOP

How do I file an appeal?

To appeal the Employment Security Department (ESD) decision, you need to write a letter of appeal.  The address and fax numbers are in the determination letter.  You may simply write, “I disagree with the decision, I want a hearing, and I want a copy of my file.”  Include your name, address, and Social Security number in the letter.

Once the letter is complete, mail or fax it to the Telecenter, using the address or fax number provided on the determination letter.  Make sure you keep a copy of what you send.  Our office is unable to help write appeal letters; if you need help, ask a friend or family member to assist you.  You have thirty (30) days from the date on the determination letter to send your appeal.

TOP

Should I continue to file for unemployment benefits while I appeal?

Yes.  If you decide you are going to appeal the decision in your case, you must continue to file your claim each week.

If you win at your hearing, you will receive benefits for the weeks you filed a claim. In addition to filing your claim each week, you must keep a record of all the job contacts you made each week.  If you have not been doing this, start now.  You must contact at least 3 different potential employers each week.  These contacts may include calling or going to a potential employer to see if there are any jobs available, or filling out and returning a job application.

TOP

What happens after I send in my appeal letter?

After you have sent in your appeal letter, your file will be transferred to the Office of Administrative Hearings.  This is the state agency that will hold your phone hearing.  They will schedule a hearing for you about three to four weeks after you file your appeal.

TOP

Where can I find a private attorney?

You can find a list of all attorneys in Washington State that specialize in Employment Law at www.welaweb.org.  We do not refer to any specific private firms.

Where can I look up laws and statutes?

You can find a listing of laws and statutes on the Employment Security Department (ESD) website here. In the search bar at the top, you can type in “voluntary quit” or “misconduct” or any legal terminology that you would like to see laws and statutes for.

When will my hearing be?

Typically, hearings are scheduled approximately 30 days from the date that you file your appeal.  7 – 10 days before the hearing, you will receive a “Notice of Hearing” with the date and time of your hearing.  If you cannot attend the hearing on that date, you must call the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) to request a postponement.  The phone number to call will be at the top of the Notice of Hearing.

TOP

Will my hearing be by phone or do I have do in-person?

The “Notice of Hearing” will tell you if your hearing is by phone or in-person.  You can find this information on the upper-right hand side of the form.  It will read “Notice of Hearing by Telephone” or “Notice of Hearing In-Person.”

TOP

What if I want and in-person hearing?

If you are scheduled for a telephone hearing, but would like an in-person hearing, you should call the administrative law judge and ask for a change.  The administrative law judge’s name and phone number are located on the front page of the “Notice of Hearing.” Explain to the judge why you want an in-person hearing.

If the ULP has accepted your case for representation, please call your representative immediately.  Your representative will assist you in changing your hearing to an in-person hearing.

TOP

What if I want a telephone hearing?

If you are scheduled for an in-person hearing, but would like a telephone hearing, you should call the administrative law judge and ask for a change.  The administrative law judge’s name and phone number are located on the front page of the “Notice of Hearing.”  Explain to the judge why you want a telephone hearing.

If the ULP has accepted your case for representation, please call your representative immediately.  Your representative will assist you in changing your hearing to a telephone hearing.

TOP

What if I can’t make the hearing date or time?

If you are scheduled for a hearing but are not available at that date or time, you should call the administrative law judge and ask for a change of date or time.  The administrative law judge’s name and phone number are located on the front page of the “Notice of Hearing.”  Explain to the judge why you are not available during the scheduled hearing time.

TOP

How should I prepare for the hearing?

If you quit your job, click here for information on how to prepare for your hearing.

If you were discharged from your job (you did not quit), click here for information on how to prepare for your hearing.

TOP

How do I get a copy of my unemployment file?

You should receive a copy of your unemployment file in the mail once an appeal has been filed in your case. If you did not receive a copy of your file, you should call the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) and request another copy. Be sure to look at all the documents in the file carefully; this will help you understand the employer’s position and evidence that they might present at the hearing.

TOP

Can I look at my employer’s records?

Your employer is required by law to keep records showing the hours you worked each day and each week and the reason you left your job. You can also access letters of warning and other disciplinary records. If you wish to receive copies of any of these records, ask the Administrative Law Judge at the Office of Administrative Hearings before the hearing.

TOP

Can I present document evidence at the hearing?

Yes, you are allowed to submit documents to the Administrative Law Judge to help you prove your claim. Depending on your case, you may want to submit-

• Medical records, if your health is an issue;
• A letter from your doctor or mental health care professional, if your health is an issue;
• A letter, affidavit, or sworn statement from someone who knows or saw what happened between you and your employer, if that person cannot be present at the hearing (there is a chance that the judge will not allow this type of letter into the record. Please see the section on “Objections” below);
• Incident reports;
• Performance Reviews;
• Surveillance video;
• Pay stubs, if your pay is at issue
• Work schedule, if your hours are at issue
• Any other documents that would support your case.

If you want to submit documents to the Administrative Law Judge, you should mail or fax copies to the judge, your former employer, and other parties listed on the Notice of Hearing before the hearing. The address and any fax numbers are listed on your Notice of Hearing
Submit only the documents that relate to the issues on appeal.

TOP

Can I have a witness at the hearing?

Yes, you may present a witness at your hearing. Depending on your case, you may want to bring-

• A co-worker who saw or knows what happened in your case.
• Any other person who saw or knows what happened in your case.

Your witness can telephone in to the hearing, regardless of whether it is an in-person or telephone hearing. It is your responsibility to make sure your witness comes to the hearing or is at the phone at the right time. Be sure to talk to your witnesses before the hearing so that you are clear on what that person knows and what they are likely to say to the judge.

TOP

Can I subpoena a witness?

A subpoena legally requires a person to come to the hearing. If a witness needs to be excused from work during the hearing, or is fearful of being punished for volunteering to testify, it may also be helpful to subpoena that person. You may want to tell the witness in advance that you will be sending a subpoena.

If you want to subpoena a witness, contact the Administrative Law Judge listed on your Notice of Hearing.

TOP

What if I can’t read or speak English very well?

If you speak little or no English or are hearing impaired, you should immediately contact the Office of Administrative Hearings and an interpreter should be provided to help you at no cost.

TOP

May I request a postponement of the hearing?

If you are still collecting documents, you may request that the hearing be delayed to a later date. However, if you are the one who appealed, this may also delay your benefits.

TOP

What should I do at the hearing?

In-person hearings
Be sure to be on time for your hearing. If you will be late, contact the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) immediately.

Make sure your witness(es) are also on time for the hearing, or are ready to call in to the hearing.

Bring several copies of all your documents with you, including your job search log.

Bring a list of points you want to bring up at the hearing and paper and pen for taking notes. You may read from your list during the hearing if you feel comfortable doing that.

When its time for your hearing, you will go into a room with the judge, the employer’s witnesses or representatives, and your own witnesses (if any). The judge will instruct you on when it’s your turn to speak.

When you testify, try to be clear and tell the story in the order it happened. You must tell the judge everything that you want him or her to know. The judge may ask you some questions, and the employer’s representative may also ask questions. After the employer’s witnesses testify, you may ask them questions.

If at any point you are confused about what is happening during the hearing, you should ask the judge to explain it to you.

Telephone hearings
Be sure call in to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) at least 15 minutes before your hearing. If you will be late, contact OAH immediately.

Make sure your witness(es) are ready to call in to the hearing.

Make sure you have all of your documents with you, including your job search log.

Have a list of points you want to bring up at the hearing and paper and pen for taking notes. You may read from your list during the hearing if you feel comfortable doing that.

When its time for your hearing, the judge will call you, the employer’s witnesses or representatives, and your own witnesses (if any) on a conference call. Once the hearing has started, the judge will instruct you on when it’s your turn to speak.

When you testify, try to be clear and tell the story in the order it happened. You must tell the judge everything that you want him or her to know. The judge may ask you some questions, and the employer’s representative may also ask questions. After the employer’s witnesses testify, you may ask them questions.

If at any point you are confused about what is happening during the hearing, you should ask the judge to explain it to you.

TOP

How do I call in for a telephone hearing?

If you are scheduled for a telephone hearing, you must call the Office of Administrative Hearings at the telephone number found on the Notice of Hearing on the day indicated and 15 (fifteen) minutes before the time indicated. Leave your name and telephone number with the person who answers. The judge will call you back when the hearing begins. Do not call from a pay phone or from a cellular phone. The hearing procedure will be the same as the in-person hearing. If you cannot hear, be sure to let the judge know.

TOP

Do I have the right to a qualified interpreter at my hearing?

Yes. You should call the Office of Administrative Hearings as soon as you get your Notice of Hearing and tell them you need an interpreter. If no interpreter is provided, you have a right to reschedule your hearing. If the interpreter is speaking too fast, you can ask him or her to slow down. If s/he is not doing a good job, say so.

TOP

How do I make objections?

You have the right to “object” to witnesses or documents the employer uses. The judge may still listen to the testimony or read the documents, but it is still a good idea to object.

There are two common objections: hearsay and relevance. For more information on objections in general, please call for a Helpline appointment at 206.441.9178 ext. 0 or toll free 888.441.9178 ext 0.

Hearsay
Hearsay is any written or oral statement made by a person not present at the hearing. Witnesses can only testify about what they saw, said, or heard. If one witness talks about something that another person said happened, that is called “hearsay.” You may object to the employer or its witnesses using hearsay.

For example, if the manager of the store is testifying, and he wasn’t employed at the store at the time he said you were late for work, he would be talking about what another employee said about what time you came in on a particular day. In this case, you should say: “I object. That is hearsay. I should be able to question this person myself about what happened and show that he is not telling the truth. Please do not rely on this information in making a decision about my benefits.” This is because the manager doesn’t know himself whether or not you were late and is relying only on the word of someone who is not at the hearing. Always make your objections while the tape recorder is running.

You may also object to documents that your employer presents at the hearing. If the document contains information from someone who is not at the hearing, and it is a document that isn’t a form or record produced regularly at your work, you should object. For example, if your employer tries to present a written statement from another employee who is not at the hearing, you should object. You should say: “I object. This is hearsay. I should be able to question this person myself about what happened and show that he is not telling the truth. Please do not rely on this information in making a decision about my employment.”

For more information, call the Unemployment Law Project Helpline at 206.441.9178 or (toll free) 888.441.9178

Relevance
All evidence and testimony must be relevant to the hearing. You may object to documents or testimony that are not related to the issues to be discussed in the hearing. This objection is commonly used when an employer will try to bring up warnings for one thing (i.e. tardiness) when the claimant was fired for something else (i.e. falsifying time cards). Because the warnings about tardiness are unrelated to falsifying time cards, you may object to their admission by saying, “I object. These documents are irrelevant.”

This objection may be used to exclude documents that are old. For example, if your employer submits a written warning from 10 years ago, you may argue that the warning is irrelevant.

TOP

How do I get the judge’s decision?

The judge’s decision will be mailed to you within 30 days of the hearing.

TOP

How do I appeal the judge’s decision?

If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you may appeal by filing a “Petition for Review.” You must file the Petition for Review within 30 days of the mailing date listed on the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) decision. A Petition for Review is a letter that states the reasons for which you disagree with the judge’s decision.

If you have not already done so, call the Agency Record Center (360-725-9440) for a copy of the hearing tape. The hearing tape is free during the 30 day appeal period. Listen to the tape and find the parts in the tape that help show that you quit for good cause or were not fired for misconduct. In the letter, you should explain why you think the judge’s decision was wrong, using examples from the tape. Be as organized and specific as possible.

The letter must be no longer than five pages and signed by you. At the top of the letter, you should write “Petition for Review,” and include your name and address, your social security number, and the Docket Number on the decision. Continue to file weekly claims during this period when you are appealing.

TOP

How do I respond to my employer’s appeal?

If the employer appeals the decision by writing a Petition for Review, you will receive a copy of their Petition for Review with an Acknowledgment. The Commissioner’s Review Office needs to receive your Response within fifteen days of the date of the Acknowledgment.

In a Response letter, you should say it is a Response to a Petition for Review and list your name, address, Social Security Number and the Docket Number of the decision. Also list the Review Number which is on the Petition for Review. You should explain why you think the judge was right when s/he determined you should have benefits and explain why you think the employer’s arguments are wrong. If possible, use examples from the hearing tape. The response letter must be no more than five pages and must be signed by you. Continue to file weekly claims during this period when you are appealing.

TOP

Where should I send the Petition for Review or the Response?

Your Petition for Review (or response letter) must be mailed to:

Commissioner’s Review Office
Employment Security Department
P.O. Box 9555
Olympia, WA 98507-9555

 

You should always check your decision to verify that this is the correct address.  The appeal must have proper postage.  You may wish to send the appeal via certified mail to verify its delivery.  You should write on either letter that you sent a copy of your Petition for Review or your response to your former employer or its representative, and then do so.

TOP

How do I appeal the Commissioner’s decision?

If you appeal to the Commissioner and lose, then you can file an appeal in a state Superior Court. Very precise rules apply in appealing a case to Superior Court appeal, so we urge you to read, and download if you wish, a guide to this process which you can find at Washington Law Help.

TOP

Am I eligible for Commissioner Approved Training (CAT)?

Commissioner Approved Training allows you to collect your regular Unemployment Insurance benefits while you are attending an approved full-time training program. CAT does not pay for books, tuition or school-related fees; it only waives the job search requirements. You do not have to look for work if you are approved for CAT. To learn more about CAT, go to faq.go2ui.com.

TOP

Am I eligible for Training Benefits?

If you have been laid off from your job and need job-related training to find work, you may be eligible for Training Benefits. If you are enrolled in an approved training program, such as CAT, Training Benefits allow you to collect additional weeks of unemployment benefits once you have received all of your regular benefits. If approved for Training Benefits, you will not be required to look for work while enrolled in school on a full-time basis, as long as you are making satisfactory progress in your training program as verified by the school. Like Commissioner Approved Training (CAT), Training Benefits do not pay for books, tuition, or school-related fees.

There are deadlines involved with applying for Training Benefits. Go to faq.go2ui.com for more information.

For any assistance with your unemployment appeals hearings, please contact our telephone helpline at (206) 441-9178 or toll free (888) 441-9178.

TOP

Comments are closed