The California Legislature, as part of a national plan of unemployment reserves and social security, enacted the Unemployment Insurance Code for the purpose of assisting in the stabilization of employment conditions.
When you lose a job – either through a layoff, a termination, a quit, or a reduction in force – you are entitled to apply for unemployment benefits. Whether you will receive those benefits depends on a number of factors. At first, the California Employment Development Department (“EDD”) will decide your eligibility. This will be based on a phone interview with you and a separate interview with a representative of the employer. If the EDD finds against you, it will send a Notice of Determination of Benefits. The most common basis for denial of a claim is California Unemployment Insurance Code §1256, which begins: “An individual is disqualified for unemployment compensation benefits if the director finds that he or she left his or her most recent work voluntarily without good cause or that he or she has been discharged for misconduct connected with his or her most recent work.”
If the EDD denies your application, you have 20 days to file an unemployment appeal with the California Unemployment Appeals Board (“CUIAB”). Below is an overview of what to expect during your unemployment appeal.
Unemployment Appeal Hearing Process
Your unemployment appeal takes place during a hearing. In Sacramento unemployment appeals are heard at the Sacramento Office of Appeals, located at 2400 Venture Oaks Way. The CUIAB has helpful information about your appeal, including a short video. Here’s what to expect.
Before the Unemployment Appeal Hearing
Before your hearing, your unemployment appeal is assigned to an Administrative Law Judge who is NOT affiliated with the EDD. Upon assignment, a “Notice of Hearing” and a “Hearing Information” pamphlet is sent to all parties involved.
Please read these items carefully as they contain important details about your hearing.
Upon your arrival to the location noted on the Notice of Hearing, follow the posted instructions for checking in.
The “hearing” file will be available for you to review before your hearing. Please note that it is illegal to write or remove anything from the file and also illegal to remove the file from the waiting room.
When you’ve completed your review please return the file and remain in the waiting room so that you can hear the Judge call your case. When the Judge calls your case, let the Judge know who you are and if you have witnesses. The Judge will tell you if they can come into the hearing room with you.
However, you have the right to be represented during the hearing by an experienced unemployment appeals attorney, or any other person.
Before the hearing begins, be sure to turn off all cell phones and pagers.
During the Unemployment Appeal Hearing
During the hearing the Judge will explain the hearing procedure and the issues listed on your hearing notice.
If you have any questions or are not sure how to tell your story, please tell the Judge. The judge will help you.
Please note that the hearing will be recorded.
The Judge will review the papers in the file and ask if there is any legal reason they should not be considered in deciding the case. Although you may not agree with the papers, this is not a legal reason the judge cannot consider them.
The Judge will place the parties and witnesses under oath and take their testimony. The Judge will ask each party and witness questions.
You will also have an opportunity to question every person who testifies. When it’s your turn to speak, be sure to tell the Judge all the important facts about each issue listed on your notice. If you filed your unemployment appeal late you will need to tell the Judge why it was late.
Give the Judge any important papers you may have that relate to the issues in your case.
If you hear anything said that is not true, tell the Judge when it is your turn.
Before the hearing ends, you will have an opportunity to make a closing statement that explains why you think the Judge should decide the case in your favor.
At the end of the hearing, the Judge will ask if the parties have anything further to say. If there is nothing further, the hearing ends and the parties should leave the hearing room.
After the Unemployment Appeal Hearing
A written decision will be mailed to you and the EDD as soon as possible. If you do not agree with the Judge’s decision you can file another appeal.
For Unemployment and Disability cases, appeals must be filed within 20 days from the mailing date noted on the decision.
For Employment Tax cases, appeals must be filed within 30 days from the mailing date noted on the decision.
Tips to Remember
In order to make your hearing process go as smoothly as possible, remember to…
Follow the instructions on your Notice of Hearing and Hearing Information pamphlets to be sure all important papers and witnesses are present at the hearing.
If you change your address or telephone number:
Notify the Office of Appeals that sent you the notice. The Office of Appeals’ phone number is printed on the bottom left-hand part of the notice; AND
Notify EDD, their contact information can be found in the ‘Hearing Information’ pamphlet provided to you.
For assistance, call the Office of Appeals that sent you the notice at the phone number printed on the bottom left-hand part of the notice.
For more information regarding the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, visit their Web site at www.cuiab.ca.gov.