Have a Successful Unemployment Appeal in Oregon

  Last Verified: July 2017  

A denial of an unemployment benefits claim is not the end if you act quickly. You can appeal the decision to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). You will get an appeal if you file on time. The appeal will be either by telephone or in-person. You will present your evidence and testimony to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who will determine whether to overturn the determination of the Oregon Employment Department (OED).

When the OED makes a determination on your claim, they will mail an Administrative Determination. The determination will include instructions on how to file the appeal.

You have to file your appeal within 20 days of the mailing date of the OED determination. Failure to file a timely appeal could result in the OAH allowing the original determination to stand.

If you do file late, you may be able to continue with your appeal. You will have to show the OAH that circumstances beyond your control caused you to file late.

How to File the Unemployment Appeal

You can file your appeal by calling the UI claims center or file in writing. If you chose to file in writing, you must send the appeal to the OAH by mail or fax. Have the following information ready:

  • Your Social Security Number or your Customer Identification Number (CID),
  • The administrative decision number, and
  • The mailing date of the administrative decision you are appealing.

You may use a pre-printed form found at the OAH site to make sure you don’t leave out any information.

Continue to file weekly claims during the appeals process, beginning when you file your appeal. If your appeal goes forward and you are awarded benefits, you won’t receive payment for any week you don’t file a weekly claim.

You should receive a Notice of Telephone Hearing or Notice of Hearing within weeks. The notice will provide you with instructions on how to proceed, as well as a “hearings packet.” You’ll receive the date and time (and place, if in person) of the hearing and the issue to be adjudicated at the hearing. For telephone hearings, you will either phone the ALJ or the ALJ will call you. If you have to call in yourself, the number will be provided.

unemployment appeal in Oregon

Check for a scheduling conflict. If you have one, you will likely have to rearrange your schedule around the hearing. The ALJ will only reschedule hearings for “good cause,” that is, if you can show a substantial and compelling reason to reschedule.

If you have special needs, such as an interpreter or disability access, a good time to arrange these is when you get your notice. The OAH will provide these services for you. If you wait until the day of the hearing, the OAH may have to reschedule your hearing.

If the issue in your case involves your separation from work, your former employer will receive notice of the hearing. Your former employer or their representative will be able to appear at the hearing and present their side of the story to the ALJ.

Preparing for the Unemployment Appeal Hearing

You will have several rights to exercise to help prove your case in the hearing. These are rights similar to those afforded participants in a court trial. Addressing these rights well in advance of the hearing will make you better prepared for the adversarial hearing.

Representation

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 OAH as soon as possible. Attorneys have specific rules to follow, and the OAH must approve the attorney’s fee.

You can change your mind about representation even after the hearing has started. The ALJ cannot refuse your right to request representation. If you find yourself in over your head, you can ask for a lawyer in the hearing. You may find that you don’t need the help. Moreover, the ALJ’s, lawyers themselves, will conduct the hearing keeping in mind the fact that the participants are not attorneys.

Witnesses

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.

Evidence

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 like witness statements should be presented if you can have the person who created the document present at the hearing, otherwise, it may not be useful, or even excluded by the ALJ. It is always best to have that witness testify in person.

You must provide copies of the evidence you’ll use to the ALJ 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 ALJ before the hearing, the ALJ may not allow you to enter the evidence as an exhibit, or be forced to stop the hearing and reschedule.

Subpoenas

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 ALJ 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 OAH 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 ALJ can serve the subpoena. The ALJ has discretion on whether you issue a subpoena.

If the ALJ 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 ALJ’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.

At 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.

You may receive a conference call code and number if you have a telephone hearing. Do not provide this to anyone else, including witnesses. If you have a witness, give their number to the OAH or the ALJ. They will call your witness when necessary.

If you cannot make the hearing because of some serious emergency, call the OAH 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 ALJ, and you are the one who filed the appeal, the ALJ may decide to allow the original OED decision to stand.

The ALJ 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 ALJ. 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.

While these administrative hearings are not court trials, the ALJ will expect that you will conduct yourself as if in court. Don’t interrupt anyone, control your temper, be brief and stay on point.

The ALJ will decide based on the facts presented at the hearing and an application of Oregon’s unemployment law to those facts. The ALJ will mail the decision to both parties. The ALJ may reverse the original decision, modify it, allow the original decision to stand, or send it back to the OED for further review.

If you disagree with the ALJ’s decision, you may file an appeal to the Employment Appeals Board. The ALJ’s decision will provide instructions on how to process that appeal.

Resources

Read the OAH handout on unemployment appeals at the OAH website.

You can find videos on how to file and participate in hearings here.

Contact

Office of Administrative Hearings

P.O. Box 14020
Salem, OR 97309

Hours of Operation

8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Contact

Ph: (503) 947-1515 (for hearings info)
Fax: (503) 947-1531 (to request a hearing)

Office of Administrative Hearings

P.O. Box 14020
Salem, OR 97309

Hours of Operation

8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Contact

Ph: (503) 947-1515 (for hearings info)
Fax: (503) 947-1531 (to request a hearing)