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Prepare for the Hearing

Video About Hearings

Watch the hearing preparation video on “How to Prepare for a Hearing.” The video is subtitled in English, Italian, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Polish, and Bengali.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Do I need an attorney to represent me at the hearing?

You have the right to contact an attorney or registered representative to represent you at the hearing. You do not have to be represented by an attorney.


Does the UIAB provide or recommend attorneys?

The Board does not provide or recommend attorneys, but it does maintain a list of attorneys and other persons and organizations that represent claimants. This list can be accessed using the link below. Claimants may be charged a fee for the services provided by an attorney or other representative, but only if the decision goes in the claimant’s favor and only after the Board approves the fee. The list also includes organizations that provide legal services for free.

Hearing Case File

What is the hearing file?

The hearing file contains documents used by the Department of Labor in reaching its determination. These documents may include Department of Labor forms, questionnaires or written statements completed by the claimant or the employer and/or summaries of telephone interviews prepared by a Department of Labor representative. The hearing file may also contain documents sent in by the claimant or the employer prior to the hearing. Nothing in the hearing file may be used by the ALJ in the decision unless it is introduced as evidence at the hearing.  If you would like a document to be considered as evidence, you must make a request to the ALJ.

Reviewing the case file in advance of your hearing.

All hearings are currently held by telephone. You will receive a copy of the entire hearing file in the mail with your hearing notice. If the copy of the file did not come with the hearing notice, immediately call the hearing location at the phone number listed on top of the hearing notice and a new copy will be sent to you. You should have a copy of your case file if you meet with an attorney or representative.

The documents in the file will have page numbers, usually in the lower right-hand corner. Keep the documents in the same order they were in when you received the packet. This will allow you to find a document quickly during the hearing.

Make sure you have the file with you at the hearing.

Witness and Evidence

If you have a witness, arrange for them to appear.

It is important that you speak with any witnesses that can help your case and arrange for them to be available by phone at the time of your hearing. Be prepared to provide the ALJ with the witness’s telephone number. Let your witness know that the ALJ may not call them at the beginning of the hearing, so they should remain available to be called at any point during the hearing. The hearing may take as long as an hour or more. If your witness is only available for a limited period of time, make sure to tell the ALJ at the beginning of the hearing.

What if I cannot get the witnesses or documents that I need, or I have a witness who is not available on the day of the hearing?

Be prepared to testify and present the rest of your evidence at the hearing. Explain to the ALJ who the witness is or what the documents are, why the witness is not available that day, and why you believe the witness or document is necessary. If the ALJ decides that the missing evidence is necessary, the hearing can be adjourned (postponed) and rescheduled to a later date, or it can be closed with the right to apply to reopen. If necessary, the ALJ may also issue a subpoena to help you get the document or witness. 

Can I send documents that help my case to the judge before the hearing?

You should mail or fax documents which you believe are important to your case to the address or fax number at the top of the Notice of Hearing. The documents should arrive at the hearing office at least three days before the date of the hearing. Be sure to include your name and your ALJ case number. You must also mail or fax the documents to the other party at the same time. If you are unable to send the documents in advance, be prepared to explain to the ALJ why you could not send the documents. The ALJ may ask if you can email or fax the documents to the ALJ and to the other party during the hearing.

Can I submit witness statements?

Yes, you can submit witness statements; however, witness statements are considered hearsay testimony.  Firsthand witnesses (witnesses who actually saw or heard the events that are at issue in the hearing) are more important than documents describing what happened or witnesses who can only repeat what they were told by another person.   

Can I submit text messages or play a video or audio recording that is important to my case?

Yes. Print the text messages before the hearing, then mail or fax the messages to the ALJ and to the other party before the hearing.

If you want the ALJ to consider a video or audio recording, you must make copies for the ALJ and other parties. The hearing notice will include a list of the formats that may be used.

Can I request that the other party produce evidence prior to the hearing?

No.  You cannot request that the other party provide evidence before the hearing. You have the opportunity to review the case file, which contains any documents previously submitted to the Department of Labor and any documents upon which the Department relied on to make its determination. If you believe the other party has other documents that may be necessary for you to prove your case, contact the hearing office and let them know the documents you wish to have produced and why they are necessary. The ALJ will address the request at the hearing.


What is a subpoena?

A subpoena is a legal paper that orders a witness to come to the hearing or orders a company or an individual to send documents to the ALJ for the hearing. 

How do I request a subpoena?

If you have an attorney, the attorney may issue the subpoena on your behalf. If you do not have an attorney, you may contact the hearing office by fax or mail as indicated on the top of your hearing notice if you believe you need a subpoena.

Be sure to include your name, case number, and the name and address of the person or the company whose records that you want to have subpoenaed, why you cannot bring the witness or evidence on your own, and what you believe the witness or evidence would prove. Your request may be granted at the time of the request and the subpoena issued at that point, or you may be told to make your request directly to the ALJ who will decide during the hearing whether to issue a subpoena.

What happens if the subpoenaed witness does not appear or the subpoenaed documents are not provided?

The ALJ will consider whether there should be another adjournment or whether the case will be decided on the rest of the evidence.

Listen To Your Prior Hearings

May I listen to the recording of a prior hearing that I did not attend?

You have the right to listen to recordings of any previous hearings. You can request a CD of the hearing recording by calling the hearing office at the telephone number shown at the top of the notice of hearing. The cost of the CD is $10.  If you cannot afford to pay the $10 you must sign a form indicating that you are unable to pay for the CD.

More Preparation Information

Our website includes links to the Unemployment Insurance law and other legal resources. Also, there is a link to a searchable database of Appeal Board decisions going back to 2008. You may reference these decisions to the ALJ in your closing statement to support your case.

More Questions and Answers