Hawaii Unemployment Appeal
If you are denied Hawaii unemployment insurance benefits and you disagree with the decision, you have the right to protest the decision. Opting to file an appeal will require you to appear before the state’s Employment Security Appeals Referees’ Office (ESARO) for a hearing.
How to appeal Hawaii Unemployment benefit denial
There are two ways to file an appeal for unemployment benefits in Hawaii.
The first way is to send your appeal notice to the address included in your determination letter. This is typically found in the appeal right information section.
The second way is to file your appeal notice in person at your local claims office or the ESARO.
When filing an appeal, you will need to include the following:
- A signed written statement with a brief explanation of why you are filing an appeal.
- Your name, address, phone number, and Social Security number
- A copy of your determination letter or notice.
The appeal must be filed within 10 days from the mailing date of the determination. If the appeal is submitted within 30 days of the mailing date of the determination, but after the 10-day deadline, the appealing party must provide good cause for not meeting the deadline.
Hawaii Appeals Office – Contact Info
830 Punchbowl St., Room 429
Honolulu, HI 96813
Oahu: (808) 586-8930
Molokai/Lanai: (800) 468-4644 ext. 6-8930
Kauai: 274-3141 ext. 6-8930
Maui: 984-2400 ext. 6-8930
Hawaii: 974-4000 ext. 6-8930
Hawaii unemployment appeals hearings
Appeals hearing scheduling
After an appeal is filed, the Employment Security Appeals Referrees’ Office will schedule a hearing date. Typically, the majority of appeal cases are set for hearings between 21 to 27 days after the appeal is filed.
The parties involved in the case will be informed of the hearing date, time, venue, and the issues to be discussed. In some cases, a telephone hearing may be scheduled instead of an in-person hearing, if it is more practical and efficient in expediting the appeal case.
Appeals hearing process
At the beginning of the appeals hearing, the appeals officer will explain the procedures and issues at hand. The appeals officer will then take all evidence and sworn testimony. All parties involved in the appeal will have the opportunity to present their facts and evidence at the hearing. Once a party has finished presenting its case, the opposing side is provided with an opportunity to cross-examine that party, including any witnesses who may have testified.
The appeals officer will then allow both parties an opportunity to offer additional testimony and evidence in response to any testimony presented by the opposing party. Each party has the right to be represented at the hearing and to bring witnesses. Typically, hearings last between 30 and 60 minutes, though more complicated cases may run longer. The appeal hearing recording and the case file containing evidence becomes an official record.
Once the hearing concludes, the appeals officer issues a written decision that includes their findings of fact based on Hawaii unemployment law. The party that loses as a result of this decision has 30 days to apply for a reopening of the appeals officer’s decision or file an appeal directly with the circuit court.
How do I prepare for my hearing?
The appeals officer will base their decision on the evidence and testimony presented during the hearing, including information provided by the UI Division. Both parties must present all relevant evidence and testimony to support their case, as the appeals hearing is their only opportunity to do so.
To prepare for the hearing, carefully review the Notice of Hearing and all accompanying materials, including any information sheets on hearing procedures. It is also important to understand the determination, and how the claims examiner or auditor arrived at their decision. Take chronological notes of the factual events related to the issue under appeal. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the relevant laws and regulations cited in the determination or notice.
Gather and make copies of all documents related to the issue, such as pay statements, employment agreements, doctor certificates, time cards, warning notices, company policies, etc. Be prepared to offer these documents as evidence at the hearing.
If necessary, arrange for witnesses who have first-hand knowledge of the events in question to participate in the hearing.
Do I need a lawyer for my appeals hearing?
A lawyer is not usually required for hearings, and many claimants and employers appear without representation. The appeals officer is responsible for ensuring that all parties have a fair and unbiased hearing, whether or not they have representation, and may assist parties with their presentation.
Nevertheless, you have the right to be represented by an employment lawyer or other designated representative, and if you choose to hire representation, it is recommended that you arrange for it as soon as possible to allow the representative time to prepare for the hearing.
It is your responsibility to notify your representative of the time and location of the hearing. Any fees charged to claimants for representation must be approved by the appeals officer and are limited by law.
Do I need a subpoena to get my witnesses to attend the hearing?
If your witness is willing to testify on your behalf, you do not need a subpoena. You can simply ask your witness to attend the hearing with you. However, if a necessary witness is unwilling to participate, you can request that the appeals officer approve the issuance of a subpoena to compel their appearance.
To do this, you must submit a written request for a subpoena immediately, along with a statement explaining why the witness is essential to your case. You must also provide the name and address of the person to be subpoenaed.
The appeals officer will notify you whether or not your subpoena request has been approved. If it is denied, you can request a reconsideration of your request during the hearing.
What if I can’t attend the hearing?
If you have a valid reason for not being able to attend the hearing, the appeals officer may reschedule the hearing to ensure that you have a fair opportunity to present your case.
You should immediately submit a written request to the appeals officer explaining the reason for your absence. ESARO staff will notify the parties of any rescheduling through mail or phone call. A hearing will only be postponed after the appeals officer approves the request.
What happens if the other side doesn’t show up to the hearing?
It is crucial to attend the hearing if you receive a notice. Failure to attend means that the appeals officer will not have access to your testimony and evidence, which can affect the case’s decision.
If the party who filed the appeal fails to appear, the appeals officer will likely affirm the UI determination without conducting the hearing. However, if only the party who filed the appeal appears, the appeals officer will conduct the hearing and obtain testimony from that party.
Will I be told ahead of time who the other party is bringing to the hearing?
No. There is no requirement for the parties to disclose the names of the witnesses they plan to bring to the hearing.
Will the appeals officer’s decision be announced at the end of the hearing?
No. All parties will receive a written decision by mail from the appeals officer as soon as one is available. The decision will detail the appeals officer’s findings, conclusions, and reasoning, and will indicate whether the appeals officer has upheld, reversed, or amended the UI benefit determination.
Collecting unemployment benefits during the appeals process
You must continue filing unemployment claim certifications, even if you have filed an appeal or requested a reconsideration. Failure to do so could result in a denial of benefits for the weeks you did not file, even if the appeal was decided in your favor.
If your appeal is denied and you have received unemployment compensation, you must follow the state’s overpayment guidelines and repay the amount owed. Failing to repay the overpayment may lead to charges of unemployment fraud, and may also impact your eligibility for future unemployment compensation.
A document outlining your rights to further appeal will be included with the decision. If you disagree with the decision, you can request the appeals officer to reconsider their decision or seek judicial review by the relevant Circuit Court in Hawaii within 30 days from when the decision was mailed.
Reopening requests are typically granted if you have relevant new or additional information that you could not have presented during the initial hearing for a good reason. If you did not attend the hearing, the case will not be reopened unless you had a valid reason for not doing so.
If the case is reopened, another hearing will be conducted, if necessary. A new decision will be issued, which can also be appealed. If the request for reopening is denied, the party that disagrees with that action has 30 days from the reopening denial to file an appeal with the circuit court.
A party has the right to request a reopening of the appeals officer’s decision only once.
Your previous employers have the right to challenge a decision that grants you unemployment benefits. If the employer appeals your eligibility for UI benefits, you can participate in the appeal hearing. If your employer is successful in overturning the decision to grant you benefits, you may be required to repay any benefits that you received.