When you apply for unemployment benefits in the state of Georgia, the Department of Labor verifies your claim for eligibility. During this time, they contact your previous employer for its version for the reasons you no longer work there. If the Department of Labor determines you are not eligible for unemployment benefits, you will receive a denial letter. You have a right to appeal that decision to show evidence that supports your claim.
File your appeal as quickly as possible. You must file within 15 days of the date on your benefits denial letter. If the 15-day deadline falls on a state holiday or weekend, your deadline will extend to the next business day. You will need to compose a written statement explaining that you received a benefits denial letter and you would like the opportunity to appeal the decision. Fax this written statement to the Georgia Department of Appeals Tribunal at the number on your denial letter. If possible, you can also hand-deliver the letter to the Georgia Department of Labor. You will receive an appeal hearing notice about three weeks later with your hearing information, including whether you will need to appear in person or can testify over the phone.
Evidence and Witnesses
Immediately begin gathering your evidence and witnesses to corroborate your version of events that led to your dismissal. The benefits denial reason will be on the denial letter, and your evidence should prove that reason false. For example, if the reason is that the employer says he fired you for cause, you might bring in a memo you received that states otherwise. On the other hand, if the denial reason is that the review board believes you were not working long enough, you can gather your pay stubs to prove your length of employment was sufficient to warrant unemployment benefits.
The appeal hearing also allows witnesses to testify. Contact former coworkers that can attest to your version of events. If you know someone who can be a witness but is unwilling to, you can contact the Georgia Department of Appeals Tribunal and ask that he be subpoenaed to testify. You must do this within a week of the hearing date to ensure the witness gets proper notification.
Many Georgia unemployment applicants are not aware they can have legal representation at the hearing. You are not required to have an attorney; but if you feel that having one represent you would further your case, you should consider it. An attorney can evaluate your case and help you strengthen your overall case. Since you are unemployed, you should check out The Georgia Bar Association listing for attorneys willing to work pro bono in unemployment hearings.
Be as professional at the hearing as possible. Arrive at the hearing on time, dressed professionally and with all of your evidence if it is in person. Otherwise, answer the phone promptly when the hearing officer calls you to initiate the telephone hearing. Do not engage with the other parties present, especially when your former employer’s representative is giving testimony. Only speak when asked by the hearing officer to offer testimony. Give your testimony in a clear, calm voice. Answer all questions as truthfully as possible. You will receive your judgment by mail a couple of weeks after the hearing.
The appeal process can take up to two months to complete. During that time, you must still certify for your unemployment benefits. This requires you to either call the unemployment hotline or log onto the Georgia Department of Labor’s website to answer questions about your job search. You will not receive any payment until after you win your appeal. However, if you did not continue to certify during the appeal process, you will not receive any of the back payments you are entitled to. Instead, your payments will begin with the first week after you win the appeal.