Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I request a hearing?

You must request a hearing within 15 calendar days of the MAILING date of the Deputy's Decision. (An additional 15 days may be granted if you have good cause for filing late.) There are several ways to request a hearing:

File Online: File your appeal online. This will be effective immediately, and you will receive a confirmation of your appeal request.

File by Phone: Call Administrative Hearings at (207) 621-5001.

Fill out Appeal Form: Each Deputy Decision has an appeal form printed on the back. Send it back by one of the following methods:

Mail it to Division of Administrative Hearings, 30 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333. Your appeal must be postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service no later than the final date of your appeal period. If the final appeal date falls on a Sunday or a holiday, the appeal period shall end on the next day which is not a Sunday or a holiday. This is the slowest method of filing an appeal.

Fax it to the Division of Administrative Hearings at (207) 287-5949. The date that the Department of Labor's receiving fax log indicates that the faxed appeal was received shall be considered the date the appeal is filed.

Hand Delivery to Division of Administrative Hearings, 45 Commerce Drive, Augusta, ME 04330 or to your local CareerCenter.

When you file your appeal, please have ready the Claimant's social security number, the Deputy's Decision number, and the Benefit Year Ending (B.Y.E.) date. It may be difficult to process your appeal without these. Please also tell the Division of Administrative Hearings if you will need any accommodations for your hearing so that we can make arrangements.

2. When and where will my hearing occur?

You will receive a Notice of Appeals Hearing that will notify you of the date, time, and location of your hearing about 7 to 10 days before it is scheduled to occur. Your hearing might be conducted over the phone, or it may be scheduled in person at a CareerCenter or Department of Labor office near you.

3. What is a telephone hearing, and when are they used?

Telephone hearings allow you to participate in a hearing without the expense or timeof traveling to a central hearing site.

Telephone hearings are scheduled by the Division of Administrative Hearings based on many considerations, including the number of witnesses and documents, the length of the hearing, the distance to a central hearing site, and the
safety of the participants.

In a telephone hearing, your testimony and that of your witness is taken, under oath, by phone. The Hearing Officer conducts the hearing in the same manner as an in-person hearing, using the same question and answer format. You
will have the same opportunity to present your case as well as to question the other people involved. If your hearing is to take place by telephone it will be clearly marked as a Telephone Hearing on the official Notice of Appeals Hearing.

If you have a witness, it is recommended that a second telephone extension be available for you to hear the testimony given by your witness.

Automated voice machines are not allowed. An open line must be dedicated for the telephone hearing.

If you are scheduled for a telephone hearing, the Hearing Officer will call you at the number listed below your name on the Notice of Appeals Hearing. If this number is incorrect, or if no number is listed, please call the Division of Administrative Hearings at least 24 hours before your hearing to provide them with a number where you can be reached.

The Hearing Officer will call you at the time stated on theNotice of Appeals Hearing. Please be near your telephone 15 minutes before the scheduled hearing time in order to avoid delay. However, also be prepared for a delay in the event the
Hearing Officer has difficulty placing the call.

Important: If your hearing will be by telephone, any documents or other similar types of evidence that you would like to present must be mailed to the Division of Administrative Hearings in time to be distributed to the opposing party before the hearing.

4. What is a Hearing Officer?

A Hearing Officer acts as a judge would in a courtroom hearing - except in this case, the atmosphere is much less formal. The Hearing Officer is present not only to decide the outcome of the hearing, but also to ensure that all parties receive a fair chance to present their cases. They will answer any questions you have about the hearing process and will also question the parties and witnesses as they give their testimony. About ten days after the hearing ends, parties will receive the Hearing Officer's written decision by U.S. Mail. This decision will either affirm, modify, or set aside the Deputy's Decision that is the basis of the appeal.

The Maine Department of Labor's Division of Administrative Hearings has several Hearing Officers and a Chief Administrative Hearing Officer. These Hearing Officers conduct telephone hearings and travel around the state to the various hearing sites.

5. Do I need a lawyer?

Most parties do not have an attorney or other representation at their appeal. The Hearing Officer will ensure that all parties are given an opportunity to present their case. It is the Hearing Officer's job to make sure each party receives a fair and unbiased hearing, regardless of whether the party choses to have representation at the hearing.

If you believe your case is complicated, or you think you may be uncomfortable presenting your case,you can hire a lawyer or representative of your choice to present your case. Your attorney or representative will be given the opportunity to question the witnesses.

If you have legal representation, contact your attorney immediately to allow them ample time to prepare for the hearing. It is your duty to timely notify your representative of the time and place of the hearing and to pay any fees charged for such representation. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may write or call:

The Volunteer Lawyer's Project
P.O. Box 547
Portland, ME 04112
Telephone: 1-800-442-4293 or (207) 774-4348

6. How do I subpoena a witness or documents?

If you need a subpoena, write or fax your request immediately to the Division of Administrative Hearings with the names and addresses of the witnesses or individuals who possess necessary documents.

You may need witnesses to present the facts that are favorable to your case. If you ask someone to appear as a witness and they refuse, you may request that they be subpoenaed. This means they are required by law to appear. You also have the same right to request a subpoena for written documents that you cannot obtain on your own.

Witnesses who are subpoenaed to testify at an administrative hearing cannot be penalized for their testimony. Maine's Whistleblower's Protection Act protects them.

7. What will happen during my hearing?

An unemployment compensation hearing is conducted by an impartial Hearing Officer. The purpose of the hearing is to decide whether unemployment benefits should be granted or denied. Anyone with an interest in the outcome of the hearing is a "party" to the hearing. Parties to hearings are typically the claimant and the employer. It is the Hearing Officer's job to see to it that all parties receive a fair hearing. A fair hearing means an impartial Hearing Officer will decide your case after considering the testimony of all witnesses and other evidence. The Hearing Officer will make sure you understand the proceedings and that you have the time you need to present information relevant to your case. The hearing will result in a written decision by the Hearing Officer affirming, modifying, or setting aside the decision of the Deputy.

The hearing is a fact-finding process. It is like a trial, but not as formal. The appeal hearing is carefully controlled by the Hearing Officer. This is done to ensure each party has the same opportunity to present his or her case.

The hearing will begin with the Hearing Officer making an opening statement about what will happen during the hearing. The Hearing Officer will answer any questions you might have about the hearing process. The Hearing Officer will only use information presented at the hearing in reaching his or her decision. All testimony is given under oath and recorded.

The Hearing Officer will begin receiving testimony by swearing in the first witness, usually either the claimant or the employer. The party carrying the burden of proof usually presents their case first. In a separation case, the burden of proof varies depending on the issue. If the claimant left work voluntarily, it will be the claimant's burden to show that they had "good cause" for leaving the employment. If the employer dismissed the claimant, it will be the employer's burden to prove that the claimant was dismissed due to the claimant's misconduct.

The Hearing Officer will usually question the witness first and allow them to tell their story. After answering all of the Hearing Officer's questions, the witness will then be allowed to give additional relevant information. The party who requested the witness's testimony will then have the opportunity to ask their own questions. Finally, the opposing party will be given the opportunity to "cross- examine," or question, the witness. The next witness is then called and the same procedure is followed again.

When one side has finished presenting their evidence, the opposing side will then be given the opportunity to present his or her case. The Hearing Officer will close the hearing when neither side has any additional relevant information or evidence to present. Most hearings involving a separation last between 30 and 60 minutes.

If you need clarification or have any questions at any time during the hearing, ask the Hearing Officer for assistance. Finally, it is important to remember that the hearing is held to gather facts, not to get into an argument. Arguing, or getting angry during a hearing, prevents you from clearly stating the facts of your case. You will give a much better presentation if you stay calm and do not allow emotions to cloud the issues.

8. What evidence will be considered?

Only evidence presented at the hearing will be considered; therefore, you should bring any documents or witnesses to the hearing that can directly help your case. Carefully think through your case. Ask yourself what information, documents, or witnesses will help to establish the facts in your favor.

Choose witnesses who have firsthand information: a person who directly saw or heard the event to which they are testifying. Someone who testifies about what someone else said, saw, or heard is giving hearsay; therefore, he or she can only have limited knowledge of that event. A witness with firsthand information is generally considered more reliable than hearsay evidence since he or she can be cross- examined.

Some hearsay is admissible as evidence. However, it is generally not as reliable as testimony from someone who has firsthand information. Testimony given at the hearing, under oath and subject to cross-examination, is often given more weight than hearsay statements.

If you are the employer, bring the claimant's supervisor or someone who saw and heard what happened to cause the firing; in addition, bring your personnel director. If you are the claimant, bring a witness to key events, someone who can directly help support your case.

9. What will happen after my hearing?

Approximately 10 days after the hearing, you will receive a written decision in the mail. This decision will either affirm, modify, or set aside the Deputy's Decision. The claimant should continue to file their unemployment claim cards each week while awaiting the decision in their case.

If you do not agree with the decision of the Hearing Officer, you may appeal that decision to the Unemployment Insurance Commission.

10. What if I need accommodations?

If you need an accommodation for your appeals hearing-- such as for a disability or an interpreter to present your facts--please contact the Division of Administrative Hearings so that we can make the necessary arrangements.

11. What if I cannot or do not attend the hearing?

If you do not attend the hearing and you are the appealing party, your appeal will be dismissed. If you do not appear and you are the non-appealing party, the hearing will continue without you and facts favorable for you may not be considered. Your failure to appear may result in a denial of all further rights of appeal.

You must make every effort to attend the hearing. If you have a very serious conflict and cannot make it, let us know immediately. Only if you have a committment which is both very important and absolutely cannot be changed should you request a postponement. Generally, hearings will not be postponed for personal reasons, vacations, plant shut downs, or business appointments. Only written confirmation from the Division of Administrative Hearings can postpone a scheduled hearing.

If you need to postpone a hearing, you need to demonstrate that you have good cause for doing so. Good cause is defined in Chapter 1, Section 1 (T) of the Unemployment Insurance Commission Regulations:

" Good Cause. For the purposes of the Employment Security Law and regulations, the Commission determines that "good cause" shall be when the unemployed individual himself is ill, or when illness of the unemployed individual's spouse or children, or parents, or stepparents, brothers or sisters, or relatives who have been acting in the capacity of a parent of either the claimant or spouse, require his or her presence; or he or she is in attendance at a funeral of such relative; or required by religious conviction to observe a religious holiday; or required by law to perform either a military or civil duty; or other cause of a necessitous and compelling nature. Incarceration as a result of a conviction for a felony or misdemeanor is excluded from the definition of "good cause"

How can I appeal the Hearing Officer's decision?

If you do not agree with the decision of the Hearing Officer in your case, you can appeal that decision to the unemployment Insurance Commission. The Commission may or may not grant you another hearing. The appeal must be filed with the Unemployment Insurance Commission within 15 days of the date of the Hearing Officer's decision, by writing to:
Unemployment Insurance Commission
57 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0057

Telephone: (207) 623-6786
Fax: (207) 287-4554

The Unemployment Insurance Commission hears appeals pursuant to Title 26 MRSA §1194(5):

5. Commission review. The commission may on its own motion affirm, modify or set aside any decision of the Division of Administrative Hearings on the basis of the evidence previously submitted in that case or direct the taking of additional evidence, or may permit any of the parties of that decision to initiate further appeals before it. The commission shall permit such further appeal by any of the parties interested in a decision of the Division of Administrative Hearings and by the deputy whose decision has been overruled or modified by the Division of Administrative Hearings. The commission may remove to itself or transfer to the chief administrative hearing officer or to another administrative hearing officer the proceedings on any claim pending before the Division of Administrative Hearings. Any proceedings so removed to the commission shall be heard in accordance with the requirements in subsection 3. All hearings conducted pursuant to this section may be heard by a quorum of commissioners, as defined in section 1081, subsection 3. The commission shall promptly notify the interested parties of its findings and decisions.

13. What if I want a waiver of overpayment of my benefits?

If you are the claimaint and the Division of Administrative Hearings decides in your favor (allows benefits), you will be paid benefits regardless of any pending appeals by the employer. Should the Division's decision be reversed or modified at a later date, or should the Hearing Officer decide against you, benefits paid to you may represent an "overpayment", and you may be required to repay some or all of the benefits you've received.

If an overpayment has been established by either the Hearing Officer's decision or the Unemployment Insurance Commission decision, and that decision has become final, you may request a Waiver of Overpayment from the Commission. A decision is final when all appeals have ended.

Your request for Waiver of Overpayment must be in writing and mailed to the Unemployment Insurance Commission. Upon request, the Commission may grant a hearing of this matter. If you do not request a hearing, the Commission will make a decision based upon a review of the record, and/or any other information the Commission may request from the claimant.

Please send Requests for Waiver of Overpayment to:

Unemployment Insurance Commission
57 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0057
Phone: (207) 623-6786