When an employee separates from your organization, it can be a very emotional issue for everyone involved. The employee may feel that they have been wronged or treated differently than others in the organization.  The company may feel that the employee’s actions were damaging to the company’s reputation or the potential for future growth opportunities or revenue.  In addition to any other issue that may arise, the employee may file a claim for unemployment benefits which ends up being appealed by one of the parties involved and you find yourself involved in an unemployment hearing either by telephone or sitting across from the former employee with a Hearing Officer from the state unemployment agency weighing the testimony and evidence presented by both sides.

One of the keys to being successful in an unemployment hearing is keeping your emotions in check and presenting your testimony in a calm, collected, matter-of-fact perspective. It’s important to present facts and details of the events that led to the separation citing specific policies violated, how the claimant was made aware of the policy, and warnings the claimant was presented, or in a resignation situation, what specifically the claimant gave as the reason for leaving.  Don’t attempt to testify to what you think the claimant may have been thinking or feeling.  Keep it strictly to the known facts from the company’s perspective.

It’s fairly common during an unemployment hearing for the former employee to attempt to interject or be disruptive during the employer’s testimony and it is equally common for a claimant to make their testimony an attack on the employer in general or even a personal attack on the witnesses involved in the hearing during their testimony. While the urge may arise to defend against false allegations or attacks on your character, it’s important to let the facts of the claimant’s separation speak for themselves and let the employee be the only one that is damaging their credibility or getting into a bad light with the Hearing Officer by disrupting the proceeding.

The Hearing Officer gives both parties an opportunity to present what they feel led to the claimant’s separation, and no matter how straightforward you may feel the claimant’s separation was, the employee will almost always have a different perspective and remember key facts differently.  In cases where the employer and claimant are presenting completely opposite testimony, the deciding factor often comes down to the credibility and demeanor that the witnesses exhibit during the hearing itself.  You always want those factors in your corner when the Hearing Officer is making their decision so if a party is going to be letting their emotions get the best of them during the hearing, you always want that to be the former employee.

Have any more questions about the hearing process? Please reach out to CCC at 800.207.6926 or via email.

By the way, I am also presenting a free CCC University training session on “How to Win a UI Hearing” on March 20, 2019.  Please register here.


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