Workers in New Jersey who have been denied unemployment claims have the right to file an appeal. Those who file an appeal and win will receive all benefits to which they were entitled, even if they find a new job and are working again by the time the decision is made.
The process of handling an unemployment denial appeal is complicated but far from impossible. Some people are able to do it on their own but it is best to hire an attorney to assist in the process. An attorney can ensure the paperwork is filled out correctly and on time, make sure the evidence presented is sufficient to support the applicant’s claims, and can help craft a narrative that is most likely to sway the Appeals Tribunal to rule in the applicant’s favor.
The following guide is intended to help those who have never before had to file an unemployment claim denial appeal.
Step 1. Read the Notice of Determination
When someone is denied an unemployment claim, he/she will first receive a Notice of Determination letter from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DLWD). It is very important that anyone seeking to appeal the denial read this letter. It will contain information explaining why the claim was denied and explain the appeals process.
Step 2. File an Appeal
Workers in New Jersey have only 10 days from the mailing date of the Notice of Determination or 7 days from delivery of the denial to file an appeal with the New Jersey DLWD Appeal Tribunal. The appeal can be filed online or by mailing an appeal letter to:
New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development
PO Box 907
Trenton, NJ 08625-0907
The appeal should include a brief but clear explanation of why the claimant was wrongfully denied and should receive benefits. The letter must also include the claimant’s name, Social Security Number, telephone number, and address.
Step 3. If Unemployed Continue Filing for Unemployment
Despite the fact that one’s unemployment benefits have been denied by the employer, anyone pursuing an appeal should continue to file weekly claims through the DLWD if they remain unemployed. In addition, it is best to continue to look for work and keep records of the ongoing job search. This way, if the appeal is granted the applicant will be entitled to the benefits retroactively from the initial application date and throughout the appeals process.
Step 4. Gather Evidence and Witnesses
A successful appeal may require gathering evidence that support the case for receiving unemployment benefits. This may include a separation notice indicating that the termination was part of a layoff, or annual reviews that show consistent good conduct. It is also possible to bring in witnesses who can provide testimony. The hearing notice (see below) will explain how to present copies of the documents to the agency representative.
Step 5. Confirm Your Attendance Before the Hearing
Once the appeal is filed, the DLWD will schedule an Appeal Tribunal telephone hearing. Applicants will get a hearing notice in the mail. This will state when the hearing will take place.
The hearing notice will instruct the claimant to confirm or “register” your attendance no later than 3:00pm EST on the day prior to the hearing date. This can be done by calling the phone number listed on the notice or can be done online. The claimant will be asked to provide the appeal and docket numbers listed on the hearing notice and also to list the names and contact information of any witnesses they want called at the hearing.
Step 6. Participate in the Hearing
It is very important to make a good impression with the agency representative so be sure to be on time and have any documents and witnesses ready and available. At the hearing, the agency representative will review documents and ask questions. Make sure to answer questions thoughtfully and carefully.
The employer may also be present, potentially represented by an attorney, and may be given the opportunity to ask questions as well. An employer’s attorney will likely be very experienced in these kinds of hearings and ask difficult questions or have prepared answers to potential questions from the applicant. Having an attorney in one’s corner to square off against the employer’s attorney can make or break one’s chances.
The applicant can also ask questions that can help prove his/her case. At the conclusion of the hearing, both sides can make closing arguments. Applicants should use this time to clearly and concisely state why they are entitled to benefits.
Step 7. Wait for a Decision
The Appeal Tribunal will mail a written decision to both the applicant and the employer, generally within 2 weeks (but could be longer). If the decision is in favor of the applicant, then the matter is usually closed and the DLWD eventually sends a check in the mail for all money owed. Sometimes the employer files an appeal to the Board of Review.
If the Appeal Tribunal rules in favor of the employer, the applicant has two choices: give up or continue to fight. Applicants, like employers, can appeal the Appeal Tribunal’s decision to the Board of Review. The decision letter will include instructions on when and how to file this appeal.
Appealing to the Board of Review
Applicants who have not hired an attorney up until this point should definitely do so now. Whether it is the employer or the applicant who files the appeal, the appeal can only be made on the basis of an error in fact or law (or both). This means that the appealing party must prove that the evidence in the case was misrepresented or that the law was applied inappropriately. An attorney with experience handling unemployment denial cases will know how best to identify and present this information in a way that has the most chance of success.
The Board of Review only reviews cases in writing by mail—there is no hearing and no oral arguments. The appeal must be filed within 20 days of the mailing or notification date of the Appeal Tribunal decision.
Appealing to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division
If either party disagrees with the Board of Review’s decision, then it can be further appealed to the NJ Superior Court. Like the Board of Review, this appeal is done entirely on paper and not in person (although a request for oral arguments can be made). Keep in mind that at this point the case is no longer being overseen by the NJ Department of Labor and is now in the legal court system. Again, applicants who have gotten this far without a lawyer should absolutely hire one now.
Who Should You Contact?
If you were recently fired and denied unemployment benefits, contact the attorneys of the Rosenblum Law Firm right away. Our attorneys are licensed in both New Jersey and New York and have a great deal of experience fighting employers and ensuring workers receive the benefits they deserve. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-979-7551 today for a free consultation about your case.