If the North Dakota government denies your claim for unemployment benefits, you have options. You can file an appeal to the decision. The appeal will be a telephone hearing held within weeks of the denial. In that hearing, you will have the right to present your case using witness testimony, evidence and telling your own side of the story to an impartial judge.
How to File an Appeal
Job Service North Dakota, the department that manages unemployment claims in the state, will mail a Notice of Eligibility Determination when it has determined your eligibility for benefits. If you are ineligible, the state will include instructions on how to appeal in that notice.
You will note that you will have a limited time in which to file your appeal. You must file the appeal on or before the date listed on the notice. If you file late, you must be able to show that circumstances beyond your control caused you to file a late appeal.
P.O. Box 5507
Bismarck, North Dakota 58506-5507.
You don’t need to provide a full argument as to why you want to appeal. Simply say that you want to appeal. If you file a written appeal, you should include current contact information, your SSN, the date and number of the decision you are appealing and your former employer’s name and address.
Preparing for the Appeal
The Appeals Unit will mail a notice that they have received your appeal request and are processing it. You will receive another notice, a Notice of Telephone Hearing, with the date and time of the appeal. You should begin preparing for the appeal as soon as the Unit notifies you that they have received your request.
If you notice a scheduling conflict, your best bet is to adjust your own schedule. The Unit will only reschedule hearings if you can show a substantial and compelling reason to change the date. If you can show good cause to reschedule, you should contact the Unit as soon as possible.
You may exercise rights during the hearing. Using these rights will help you prove your case to the referee. While this is an administrative hearing, and so less formal than a court trial, you will use similar procedures to show why you should receive benefits.
If the issue is related to your separation from work, which is common in appeals, your former employer will receive notice of the hearing. Your former employer will be able to appear at the hearing and present their own evidence and testimony.
You may have an attorney represent you at the hearing or a designated agent or friend. Many represent themselves at hearings without difficulty. If you plan to hire a lawyer, you should notify the Appeals Unit as soon as possible. Attorneys have specific rules to follow, and the Unit must approve the attorney’s fee.
If you want to have someone testify at the hearing, they should be prepared to testify as to the facts regarding your separation from work (if that is the issue of your appeal). They should have first-hand knowledge about what happened. Character witnesses do not usually provide helpful testimony unless your character is at issue.
You may present relevant documents that can help prove your case. You can present paperwork regularly produced in the course of business, like time sheets or notices from your supervisor. Other written evidence should be presented if you can have the person who created the document present at the hearing.
You must provide copies of the evidence you’ll use to the referee and the opposing party in advance of the hearing. You should have all your evidence ready days before the hearing date. If you can’t provide a copy to the opposing party or the referee before the hearing, the referee may not allow you to enter the evidence as an exhibit, or be forced to stop the hearing and reschedule.
Someone you want to testify may be reluctant to participate. There may exist evidence that someone like your former employer may not want to give you. In these cases, you may request that the referee issue a subpoena. The subpoena will compel the witness to appear or a person to turn over the evidence you need.
You should contact the Appeals Unit quickly if you want to request a subpoena. You should make your request in writing. The request should contain specific information on the evidence or witness you need so that the referee can serve the subpoena. The referee has discretion on whether you issue a subpoena.
If the referee denies your subpoena request (you may not know until the hearing date), you should attempt to introduce the evidence during the hearing so that it is on the record. If you lose your appeal, you can bring the matter up when appealing the referee’s decision later.
Gather all your evidence and testimony. Make sure that it all ties together logically. You will want to make a fact-based, logical argument to the referee during the hearing.
At the Hearing
The day before the hearing, before 3PM, you must contact the Appeals Unit. Give them the telephone number you wish to use during the hearing. Do the same for any witnesses you will rely on. The referee will call these numbers at the scheduled time of the hearing.
If you have an in-person hearing, arrive at least 10 minutes early. It will be your responsibility to make sure your witnesses arrive on time as well.
If you cannot make the hearing because of some serious emergency, call the Appeals Unit immediately or as soon as possible. You may be able to reschedule your hearing, or you may request to reopen the hearing if you have a compelling reason. If you are simply late to the hearing or miss the call from the referee, and you are the one who filed the appeal, the referee may decide to allow the original JSND decision to stand.
The Referee will conduct the hearing in a similar fashion to a court trial. The procedure is less formal, however. You will be sworn in and receive instructions from the Referee. Both parties to the hearing will present their testimony, evidence and witnesses under oath. Both parties will be able to “cross examine” the other party’s testimony and witnesses. Both parties may make closing statements.
The Referee will decide based on the facts presented at the hearing and an application of North Dakota’s unemployment law to those facts. The Referee will mail the decision to both parties within 7 to 10 days. The Referee may reverse the original decision, modify it, allow the original decision to stand, or send it back to the JSND for further review.
If you disagree with the Referee’s decision, you may file an appeal to the Executive Director of the Review Bureau. The Referee’s decision will provide instructions on how to process the appeal.
The JSND website contains a page on the appeals process.
You can read more information about appeals in the claimant’s guide to unemployment insurance.
The sections of the ND codes on unemployment law may help making your case.