By: Jeremy Schatz, Managing Attorney, Virtus Law Group, Birmingham Alabama.
If you are denied unemployment and disagree with the determination of the Alabama Unemployment examiners’ decision you have a right to appeal.
There are three levels of appeals when dealing with unemployment determinations with each level being quite different from the previous.
Level 1 Appeal with the Hearing and Appeals Divisions
This is a claimant’s first opportunity to appeal an adverse decision and consists of a phone hearing with a hearing officer. (An employer may also appeal a decision to grant unemployment benefits).
You have 15 days to request this type of appeal if the decision was mailed and 7 days if it was handed to you. There are no formal requirements for what needs to be in the request other than your name, social security number, and a brief statement of why you disagree with the examiner’s decision.
Once the appeal request is received, a phone hearing will be scheduled and a notice will be sent which states the date, time, hearing officer’s name and issue(s) to be discussed.
Each party (employee and employer) can be represented by counsel, but it’s not required. During the hearing, the hearing officer will ask all parties involved questions and each party is allowed to have witnesses and submit supporting documents. Anyone giving testimony will be sworn in under oath. Usually a few days following the hearing, the officer will issue their findings either granting or denying unemployment benefits.
It’s important to note that if you decide to appeal a decision denying unemployment, you still need to certify each week while the appeals process is ongoing. This will allow you to receive backpay should unemployment be granted.
Level 2 Appeal to the Board of Appeals
Should you receive an adverse decision with the Hearing and Appeals Division, the next step is to go in front of the board of appeals which consists of a three-person panel. You must submit a notice of your desire to appeal the hearing officer’s decision no later than fifteen days following receipt of the hearing officer’s decision. The notice required is the same as in Level 1.
However, unlike an appeal with the Hearing and Appeals Division, which is granted a matter of right, the Board of Appeals has the discretion to grant or deny your application.
Should your application be granted, the board may decide to have an in-person hearing or use the record already created to render their decision.
Level 3 Circuit Court
Should either party be dissatisfied with the decision of the Board of Appeals they may file an appeal in the circuit court of the claimant’s residence (the person trying to get unemployment). You have 30 days from the date of the Board of Appeals’ decision to file an appeal in Circuit Court.