Anatomy Of An Appeals Hearing
Phone Or In Person Hearings
Swearing In of The Parties (Parties placed under Oath)
Issues In Case Explained
(Quit & Discharge)
DOL Exhibits Entered into Record

Procedures
Explained to the Parties
Testimony
(and adding of employer/claimant exhibits)

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DOL Exhibits Entered Into Record
Each case consists of a file with documents related to the case. Some of these documents are forms prepared by both parties in response to requests from the GA Department of Labor.   The hearing officer will describe these documents to the parties and allow each side to object if they disagree them.  If there are no valid objections, the documents will be added as exhibits to the record.

  Note: Your objections must be legal objections and not simply that you disagree with the content of the documents.  For example, you may object to a document because it is the wrong document (i.e. a separation notice from another employer) or because it is not a genuine document (the document is a fraud).  You may also object if you disagree with the dates or times specified in the document.  Objections based on content will usually be overruled.  These specific documents are mostly to establish that a claim was filed and that valid jurisdiction exists for an appeal.   Content objections will certainly surface during the testimony.  

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Employer/Claimant Exhibits
The hearing officer often receives many documents before each hearing.  Note: A hearing officer is given six or seven cases a day and is always very busy. Do not expect your document to be entered into the record just because it is in the file. 

When the party is referring to a document during their testimony, they should make a motion for it to be added to the record as an exhibit.  WARNING!!!  You must ask specifically that the document be added as an exhibit. Do not depend on the hearing officer to add it in on his own motion. 

See Documents

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Procedures
The hearing officer is the primary fact finder in the case and will ask each witness questions. When the hearing officer is done with a witness, the side that called the witness can also ask questions. 
Note: Neither side can ask leading questions to their own witness. But they can certainly ask the other side such questions. 

When a party is done questioning the witness, the opposing side may follow with their own questions. This process continues until all witnesses have testified and been questioned.  At that point, the hearing officer makes time for rebuttal and closing statements.  (Sometimes the hearing officer will skip rebuttal so be sure to ask them if such is allowed).

The hearing officer will not render a decision while the parties are at the hearing.  A copy of the decision will be mailed to both sides in about two to three weeks after the hearing.

On the back of the decision are your appeal rights and an ending date. You will have 15 calendar days from the ending date in which to file an appeal.  All appeals must be in writing and either faxed, mailed or hand delivered to the appeals board.

Mailed in copies will be judged timely or untimely based on their postage cancellation date or postmarked date.  Date stamps from postage meters which can be set by the parties themselves, cannot be used to show the appeal was timely.

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Testimony

In a Discharge, the employer’s witnesses go first.  In a Quit the claimant’s witnesses go first.

See Also

Rebuttal and
Closing statements


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Leading And Non-Leading Questions (Examples)
A leading question is one that suggests an answer. A non-leading question does not. A party is not allowed to coach their own witness by asking them leading questions.

Leading Questions (Can Ask Other Side Such But Not Your Own Witness)

John was absent 5 times, right?
Isn't true John was absent 5 times?
John was warned about his attendance, right?

You never told us you had a skin problem did you?
And you never spoke to a supervisor about it is that correct?

Non-Leading Questions (Can ask anyone)

Was John absent 5 times?
When?
Did you ever warn john about his attendance?

Did John ever tell you he had a skin problem?
Do you know if John ever spoke to a supervisor about it?

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Hearings By Phone Or In Person
The DOL prefers that hearings be done over the telephone. But upon request of either party, the hearing may be conducted  face to face.  To guarantee you are heard in person, you will need to show that a phone hearing would be unfair and thus violate your right to due process.  Hearings should be in person if you have lots of documents, a video or diagrams that require you be there to explain them. If your request for an in person is denied, you can still get one by Objecting To The Oath During The Telephone Hearing.
 

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Telephone Hearings
The advantage here is that they're extremely convenient and don't require the employer commute to another location. The disadvantage is that you can't see the people face to face. There is a loss of communication when the parties cannot express themselves in view of the hearing officer. It also is harder to refer to things such as documents or diagrams, or to re-enact dramatic occurrences, etc.

 

In Person Hearings
The advantage here is that you can see the people face to face, observe their demeanor and see if the hearing officer understands what you're talking about. If you have lots of documents, a video or diagrams, you'll want to be in person to explain them.

Witnesses

ALWAYS RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CALL OTHER WITNESSES VIA TELEPHONE WELL IN ADVANCE OF THE HEARING
You must be ready for the unexpected. The claimant may say things you never imagined, perhaps simply because he knows that no one at the hearing can refute him.  If you don't reserve the right to have some witnesses participate by phone, you may be stuck with only those who physically appeared at the hearing.

Reserving your right to phone in other witnesses should be done immediately after you know of an in person hearing. Call The DOL Appeal's Division and tell them you want permission to conference at least two or three witnesses by phone. Take down the name of the person you spoke with along with the the date and the number you called. If they grant you permission, tell them to log such on "DOL Screen AL13". The Hearing Officer will look at this screen right before the hearing.

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