After you or your Employer files an appeal to the Notice of Determination, you will receive a Notice of Hearing in the mail. This Notice of Hearing states the date, time and location of your Referee Hearing. The Referee Hearing is your only chance to present testimony and witnesses concerning your application for unemployment compensation benefits (“UC Benefits”), which is why it is so important to attend the hearing.
However, sometimes Referee Hearings are scheduled at a location which is extremely far away from where you live. A Referee Hearing is typically scheduled at a location closest to both parties (i.e., Employer and yourself). However, sometimes the Referee Hearing is scheduled closer to the Employer and it is far from where you live. What do you do then?
The answer is to schedule the Referee Hearing as a Telephone Hearing. While in-person testimony is preferred, there are some situations where a Referee will permit a party to testify by telephone.
When will a Referee permit a party to participate by telephone?
The Referee may allow a party to participate by telephone if the party is located at least fifty (50) miles from the location of the where the Referee Hearing will be held. For example, if the Referee Hearing is being held in Pittsburgh, PA and you live in Butler, PA the Referee may allow you to participate by telephone because of the distance.
How do you request to participate by telephone?
Once you receive your Notice of Hearing in the mail and it identifies the Referee assigned to hear your appeal, you must submit a request to that Referee asking to participate by telephone. The request should detail why you cannot attend the Referee Hearing in person. You should clearly state that you are located “X” amount of miles away from the hearing location. You can submit this request via email or fax. You will then receive confirmation from the Referee Office if you have been granted permission to participate by telephone. If you have been granted permission, the Referee Hearing will be rescheduled and you will receive a new Notice of Hearing in the mail within a few weeks.
What is the procedure of a Telephone Referee Hearing?
If your request to participate by telephone has been granted, you will receive a new Notice of Hearing in the mail. The Notice of Hearing will include instructions of how the Telephone Hearing will proceed. For Telephone Referee Hearings, all parties who wish to have documents entered or testified from at the Hearing must submit them to the Referee Office at least five (5) days before the Hearing. All parties must submit all documents to the Referee in advance so the Referee can forward a copy of those documents to all the parties participating by telephone. Therefore, there are no surprises at a Telephone Referee Hearing. This is the one benefit to doing a Referee Hearing by telephone.
For all parties participating by telephone, you must contact the Referee Office before the Hearing if the telephone number appearing on the new Notice of Hearing is incorrect. You want to make sure the Referee has the correct number so he/she can contact you on the day of the Hearing. It is important to keep your telephone line open at least fifteen (15) minutes prior to the start time of your Hearing because the Referee will be contacting you. You want to make sure your phone line is open. You will not contact the Referee in order to participate.
It is also important to note that the Referee will be calling parties on a telephone line that will not display the originating telephone number. If your telephone has the capability of blocking incoming calls, you need to make sure you correct that so you can accept all incoming calls. It is the party’s responsibility to make sure he/she is able to accept the Referee’s call.
Once you are connected to the Referee, the Hearing will proceed as usual. You will be able to offer testimony in order to prove why you should be eligible for benefits. Participating by telephone does not reduce your chance of obtaining UC Benefits so do not be afraid to ask for this accommodation if you need it.