The best source for detailed guidelines about Georgia’s unemployment benefits appeal process is the Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Handbook. Below is a summary description of the unemployment appeals process and how an attorney might be able to help you along the way.
Note: this is for informational purposes only and should not be viewed as legal advice. To obtain legal advice, you need to speak with an attorney and create a formal attorney-client retainer agreement.
If you have applied for unemployment benefits and received a determination that you are ineligible, you have a right to appeal that determination. You must file your appeal with the Department of Labor within 15 days of the date the determination was mailed to you. The notice of determination will tell you where to file your written appeal.
At this point, you may wish to hire an attorney to help you draft your notice of appeal. If you need help filing the appeal, it is crucial that you contact an attorney immediately upon receiving the initial determination. Your attorney will need the full window of time to prepare your appeal statement. It is helpful to the attorney if you contact us at this stage, so we can inform the Department of Labor of any scheduling conflicts we have for the hearing.
You may choose to file your appeal statement without an attorney. If you do, be sure that you include on your appeal statement every reason the determination is incorrect. For example, if your employer reported to the initial claims examiner that you were fired for violating company policy, it is important that you state on your appeal form, “I did not violate company policy.”
If you timely file your appeal, and give the Department of Labor all the necessary personal information to contact you, you should receive a notice of hearing in the mail. You will be provided in the notice a date for the hearing. The notice will also inform you whether the hearing will be conducted over the telephone or in-person.
This is the time when many people realize they may need an attorney. At the hearing, you will be required to give testimony under oath, as well as present evidence in support of your appeal. A representative from your employer will be at the hearing, likely including the person who made the decision to terminate your employment. Your employer also may have an attorney at the hearing. Under these circumstances, it can be a daunting task to present your evidence and effectively cross-examine your employer’s representative.
If you are not successful at the hearing, you are entitled to appeal the decision to the Board of Review, who will look at the hearing below and determine whether the hearing officer committed any legal or factual errors. If you are successful, your employer has a right to appeal to the Board of Review as well. An attorney can help you to draft arguments and present your case to the Board of Review.
Following the Board of Review’s decision, the losing party has the option to appeal the case to a Superior Court. Such appeals are fairly uncommon, and the Superior Court has a very narrow scope of review. However, if you elect to appeal your case to the Superior Court, or if your employer elects to do so, an attorney can help you present your case most effectively to the court.
Do you need the help of an attorney? Contact us.