Although telephone and in-person hearings have similar order and cadence to them, there are many subtle differences outside the obvious travel time, face to face interaction, etc. Each of these may pose an advantage or disadvantage to the Employer.

 

In-Person Hearings:

In person, hearings are usually more intense than those done by phone. It is often more nerve-racking because everyone is in the same (often cramped) room together, which makes most people uncomfortable. This requires a representative to spend some time calming the witness down and reminding them this is simply them assisting their company rather than executing a personal vendetta on the claimant, which I have found is the greatest concern of witnesses in these settings.

A hearing done face-to-face also tends to lead to the claimant being more truthful and less bold. Having a judge directly in front of them can convince the claimant that their words have direct consequences, and therefore, they should be honest and truthful. When this occurs, there are less unanticipated issues brought up by the claimant, making the witness and representative’s jobs much easier.

Another advantage to the in-person hearing is there is less rambling by the claimant. In my experience, some phone hearings allow a claimant to go on long and often irrelevant diatribes that cause confusion and waste everyone’s time. Having a judge in front of both parties tends to keep the claimant more focused and relevant, which again helps the employer and representative.

Telephone Hearings:

In-person hearings can be stressful for your witness. Phone hearings may still be stressful, but attending a telephone hearing is much more relaxing for your witness simply because they are behind a phone and not seeing the judge or claimant who they are “going against.” A relaxed witness is the best witness.

A major advantage of the phone hearing is your ability to communicate with your witness during the hearing. In states that it’s allowed, your representative and witness can email back and forth during the hearing in case something unexpected arises; including undisclosed claimant witnesses / references, new questions you will ask your witness based on the claimant’s testimony and more. This communication is not allowed during in-person hearings.

Lastly, with no travel time or weather considerations, there is much less of a chance for a witness to miss an unemployment hearing due to an emergency. Unexcused absences cause headaches for all parties involved and may affect the result of the hearing. In addition, the limited travel time and gas also limits the cost to the employer.


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