You have the right to appeal any decision by the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) when it comes to your claim for unemployment benefits. If you file a timely appeal, you will get a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. You’ll have the right to present witnesses and evidence to argue your case.
The DWS will mail a Notice of Determination when they decide on your unemployment claim. That notice will include instructions on how to file the appeal. Notice that you will have 15 calendar days in which to file the appeal. The period starts from the mailing date on the Notice of Determination, not when you receive it.
If you do not file a timely appeal, or you make some other error or omission, the Appeals Unit may cancel the request and allow the original DWS decision to stand. You may have to show a good cause for filing late before your appeal can go forward.
Most appeals are by telephone. You may receive an in-person hearing. If you want to have an in-person hearing, you may request one in writing.
Requesting an Unemployment Appeal
You can file your appeal online, or fax or mail a written appeal. However you file, you will have to include:
- Name of person or business filing the appeal
- Your mailing address
- Social security number for the Claimant
- Date of appeal
- Statement of why you are appealing
- A telephone number you are sure will be working on the hearing date
Fax your appeal to 801-526- 9242, or mail your appeal to Appeals Unit, P.O. Box 45244, Salt Lake City, UT 84145-0244.
Preparing for the Hearing
You should continue to file weekly claims during the appeals process. If the ALJ reverses the DWS decision to deny the appeal, you won’t get money for any week in which you did not file a claim.
The Appeals section will mail you a Notice of Hearing or a Notice of Telephone Hearing. Either notice will give you the date and time (and place) of the hearing. Most hearings are held via a telephone conference call. If fairness to one or both parties demands it, the ALJ will hold an in-person hearing.
Check for scheduling conflicts. You may request a change of the time or date, but you must show a compelling reason for the ALJ to agree to your request. It is more likely that you will have to change your schedule.
Receipt of the Notice of Hearing is also a good time to inform the Appeals section about any special needs you may have. The section will provide language translators or disability assistance. You should notify the section as soon as you can.
During the hearing, you will be able to exercise rights similar to those afforded during a court trial. You may present evidence, witness testimony and you may have someone represent you before the ALJ.
Your former employer will receive notice of the hearing if the issue involves your separation from work. They will have the right to appear at the hearing and present their side of the story.
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.
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 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.
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 Appeals Unit quickly if you want to request a subpoena. You should make your request in writing no later than three days before the hearing date. 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 to the ALJ during the hearing. While the judge may be sensitive to your financial issues, that will not be a factor in the decision, so leave them out of your argument.
At the Hearing
If you have a telephone hearing, be prepared and waiting by the telephone at the scheduled time for the hearing. Make sure your witnesses are ready to participate. If you don’t hear from the judge within 10 minutes, call the Appeals Unit.
If your hearing is in person, arrive ten minutes prior to the hearing date.
If you are substantially late or you miss the hearing completely, the ALJ is likely to dismiss your case and let the original determination stand. You would have to request a reopening of your case to show cause why you missed the hearing.
Your former employer may also appeal determinations. You should appear at those hearings. If you did not request the appeal, but you miss the hearing, you won’t be able to present your side of the story.
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.
The ALJ will decide based on the facts presented at the hearing and an application of Utah’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 DWS for further review.
In most cases, a decision will be sent to the parties within ten days of the completed hearing. The decision will give the facts of the case as determined by the ALJ, and the law and reasons for the ALJ’s decision.
If You Lose
If you believe the ALJ decision is incorrect as to the facts or contrary to law, you may file an appeal with the Workforce Appeals Board (Board). The Board is a three-person panel appointed by the Governor to provide an independent review of unemployment hearing decisions. The Board does not hold new hearings. It only reviews the record from the hearing held by the ALJ. The ALJ’s decision will contain instructions on how to file this appeal.
The Utah DWS Appeals Unit has an online FAQ that may answer specific questions.