Unemployment benefits are provided to eligible workers (claimants) who become unemployed through no fault of their own and meet certain other eligibility requirements. In instances where there is an appeal on the unemployment claim, either by the claimant or the employer, departments must be prepared for the appeals hearing.

For additional information, visit the Missouri Department of Labor, Division of Employment Security Appeals Hearing Information webpage.

It is the responsibility of the department to prepare for the appeals hearing. Notices are mailed to each party at least seven days before the hearing, after which departments have a limited amount of time to collect information, provide documentation and schedule witnesses.

The sections below provide guidance to department representatives on preparing for the hearing.

Identify who in the department will represent the employer

The University’s representative at the hearing is the person with first-hand knowledge of the facts leading to the separation, traditionally the direct supervisor. Human Resources cannot act as a representative. Both the complainant and the University may have legal representation. However, generally, both parties represent themselves.

Gather information

The burden of proof falls to the party who initiated the action that resulted in the claimant’s separation.

When a notice of hearing packet is received, the representative should immediately review the documents, which contain:

  • Information from the University’s response to Division of Employment Security regarding the employee’s initial claim.
  • Documentation provided to Division of Employment Security by the employee.

If any pertinent evidence is not included in the packet and should be added, the representative will need to mail, e-mail or fax these documents to the claimant and the Division of Employment Security referee. Documents must be received by all parties prior to the scheduled hearing date.

The representative will draft questions to ask the claimant and witnesses and prepare a list of facts that are pertinent to the claimant’s separation. Do not assume the referee will have reviewed all materials prior to the hearing. Representatives must be prepared to present all facts. Examples of topics that may be reviewed are outlined in Hearing Process section, below.

Identify and schedule witnesses

Representatives may request testimony from witnesses to support the department’s position. Witnesses must have first-hand knowledge of the events leading up to the claimant’s separation and not repeat the same testimony. Witnesses are not allowed to be in the hearing room or on the conference call during others’ testimony.

Representatives are responsible for:

  • Ensuring witnesses are available for the date and time of the hearing.
  • For hearings conducted via phone, providing name and telephone number of any witnesses at the beginning of the call.
    • Witnesses will not be called until it is time for their testimony.
    • Witnesses should remain available at their phone for at least 45 minutes after the scheduled time of the hearing to await a call from the referee.
    • If a witness is not available at the time of the call their testimony will not be included.

Final preparations for hearing day

On hearing day, representatives should:

  • Have all documents and files on hand for easy reference.
  • Ensure all witnesses are present at the location or available for the call.
  • For hearings held in person, the representative and witnesses should arrive to the location early.
  • For phone hearings, all parties must be in a quiet location and have a reliable phone connection.
    • Cellular phones are discouraged. If a call is dropped during the hearing the caller’s testimony ends.
    • Participants will not be able to return to the call or be recalled.

A claimant may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if they meet the following:

  • Earned sufficient wages from insured work;
  • Lost a job through no fault of their own, or quit for a valid reason related to the work or  employer;
  • Able to work and available for work; and
  • Actively seeking work.

The steps below outline how an initial claim progresses into an appeal hearing:

  1. A claimant experiences a separation and files an initial claim for unemployment benefits with Division of Employment Security.
  2. Division of Employment Security contacts the University of Missouri System Office of Human Resources for details regarding the claimant’s separation.
    • UM System HR works with campus HR to provide information such as the action/reason codes, termination or resignation letters and other supporting documents from the claimant’s personnel record.
    • Campus HR may contact the department for additional supporting documents.
  3. A Division of Employment Security official (deputy) determines to award or deny unemployment benefits to the claimant.
    • If benefits are granted, the deputy also determines the benefit amount.
  4. An appeal is filed in writing with the Division of Employment Security within 30 days of the date of the initial determination.
    • A claimant may appeal the decision to deny unemployment benefits, or the amount of unemployment benefits received.
    • Likewise, an employer may appeal the allowance of benefits or the amount.
  5. Division of Employment Security schedules a hearing in which a referee will hear details about the separation from both the claimant and employer. A notice of hearing packet is provided to the claimant and the employer.
    • This packet contains notification of the hearing date, time and location along with any documents provided to both parties during the initial claim processing.
  6. A referee conducts the hearing i to evaluate if the previous decision was suitable.
    • Both the claimant and the employer are allowed opportunity to present additional information regarding the separation of employment.

The referee issues a decision based on the information provided in the hearing.

  1. The referee will open by introducing themselves, requesting names and contact information of any witnesses, describing the purpose of the hearing and legal issues and procedures that will follow. Each party will be placed under oath and the proceeding will be recorded.
  2. Each party will have an opportunity to share his/her position.
    • In cases where the University initiated the separation, the University representative will provide his/her testimony first.
    • In cases where the claimant left their position voluntarily, the claimant will provide his/her testimony first.
  3. The referee will question both parties and all witnesses.
    • Employment questions may be related to:
      • Dates of employment
      • Position title(s)
      • Salary information
      • Time and attendance records
    • Questions related to the employment separation may include:
      • Dates and timeline of events
      • Progressive discipline history
      • Details of the triggering event
      • Relevant policies/procedures
      • Supporting documentation
  4. Each party will be provided an opportunity to ask questions of the other party and the associated witnesses.
    • The referee will announce when that opportunity exists. Do not interrupt, ask questions or interject until the referee indicates that it is time to do so.
  5. After each party has had the opportunity to present their case and witnesses have been interviewed, each side may offer a closing statement.
    • At this time simply recap the case’s main points, do not repeat the entire case.
  6. The referee will close the hearing. A decision will not be shared during the hearing.
  7. Decision is provided to UM System Human Resources.