Louisiana Appeals Process – What Happens When you’re Denied Benefits?
When the Louisiana Workforce Services (LWS) denies your claim for unemployment benefits in Louisiana for any reason, you have the right to file an appeal to the Appeals Unit. An administrative law judge (ALJ) will conduct a fair and impartial hearing on your issue, either by telephone or in-person. In that hearing, you will have the right to present testimony and evidence to show why you should receive benefits.
How to File the Appeal
When the state denies your claim, the LWC will issue a Notice of Determination by mail. The notice will include instructions on how to file the appeal. You will have 15 calendar days from the mailing date of the notice in which to file your appeal.
Louisiana gives you three methods of filing an appeal:
- Online at www.laworks.net
- Via mail, addressed to:
LWC Appeals Unit
P.O. Box 94094
Baton Rouge, LA, 70804-9094
- Via fax to 225.346.6077
If you mail or fax the appeal, include the reasons you do not agree with the decision that was made on your claim, all pertinent information regarding your claim, your full name in print, and the last four digits of your social security number. Make sure to sign your appeals letter.
Preparing for the Appeal
The Appeals Unit will mail an acknowledgement letter letting you know your unemployment benefit appeal is being processed. Later, the unit will mail a Notice of Hearing when it schedules your appeal. The notice will contain important information, including the date and time (or place, if the hearing is in-person). Read all the information carefully.
If the issue at the hearing involves your separation from employment, your former (base period) employer will also receive notice and will retain the right to appear at the hearing.
Should you notice a scheduling conflict exists, contact the unit immediately. You will have to request a rescheduling of the hearing date. You must show a good cause to reschedule the hearing. A “good cause” would be a substantial or compelling reason to reschedule, such as a pre-existing legal obligation. Otherwise, you will have to rearrange your personal schedule.
The notice will also inform you of your rights, rights that you may exercise to help you prove your case.
You have the right to have someone represent you at the hearing. That representative can be a lawyer, a union rep or a friend. Many represent themselves at the hearing without issue.
The Appeals Unit will not get an attorney for you or help you find one, other than to offer telephone numbers to your local bar association or Legal Aid Services.
You have the right to have someone testify on your behalf. Their testimony should evince a first-hand knowledge of the issue at the hearing. Testimony regarding your character or retelling something they heard from another person may not be relevant to the hearing.
You have the right to present physical evidence at the hearing. The evidence should be relevant to the issue at the hearing. You can present medical documents or documents normally produced at your former workplace (like an attendance form).
The evidence must be presented to the ALJ and the opposing party prior to the hearing if the hearing is by telephone. It is your responsibility to make a reasonable effort to ensure the opposing party has a copy. If the opposing party does not have an opportunity to review evidence, the ALJ may not allow you to present it.
Audio or video evidence may present special problems for the hearing, especially telephone hearings. Contact the Appeals Unit if you plan to present such evidence.
If a witness is reluctant to appear, or if you are having a problem getting an important piece of evidence, you may ask the ALJ to issue a subpoena. This order will compel a witness to appear or to produce evidence. The ALJ will decide whether to issue the subpoena based on several factors. Make your request as soon as possible, at least 3 days before the hearing date. The request must be in writing and signed by you.
Collect your evidence and witness testimony. Combine them to produce a logical, fact-based argument as to why the ALJ should reverse or modify the LWS determination.
At the Hearing
The ALJ will call you at the telephone number you have provided when you file the appeal. Be ready at the scheduled time. If the hearing is in person, arrive at least 15 minutes early.
The ALJ will take sworn testimony from both parties. After instructions on the hearing procedures, the testimony begins. The ALJ will decide which party goes first. Often, when the issue is whether you quit without good cause, you may go first. If the issue is whether you were fired for misconduct, the employer may go first. Sometimes, the person who filed the appeal goes first.
Both parties will provide testimony. Both parties will have the opportunity to ask the opposing party questions about their testimony after the testimony ends. The ALJ may ask questions at any time during the hearing.
The procedures of these administrative hearings are less formal than a court case. However, you should behave as if you were in court. It is especially important not to attempt to speak when someone else is speaking in a telephone hearing.
Both parties will have the opportunity to provide a closing statement.
The ALJ will deliberate after the hearing has completed and issue a decision by mail several days later. If you disagree with the decision, you will have the right to appeal the decision to the Board of Review. The ALJ’s decision will contain instructions on how to file the appeal.
Clerk of Court at 1-800-256-8023 or email [email protected]
Read the FAQ on LWS unemployment appeals.