Appeal Process

There are several steps that occur prior to a claimant or an employer appealing to the Board of Review. The diagram below illustrates the process from the time an employee/claimant files a claim for unemployment/temporary disability insurance through the Board of Review process.

Appeal Process Flow Chart

Appeal Process Flow Chart

Decisions made by the three-member Board are usually rendered fairly quickly, both parties are notified of the outcome.

This flow chart is a simplified illustration of the process a person may go through when they file a claim - there may be several other steps, depending on whether the claim is for unemployment or temporary disability.

Prepare for Your Hearing

The appeal hearing may be your last opportunity to present your case, so be thoroughly prepared. Take any evidence with you, or have it in hand during your hearing.

Unemployment Compensation appeal hearings are called "de novo", which is latin for "from the beginning". This means your hearing will be impartial and independent of the initial decision that granted or denied your benefits. The Referee who conducts the hearing is not bound by the initial decision and will base his/her decision only on the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing. This is a VERY important point.

If documents, letters, statements or any other types of evidence were previously presented at to the unemployment office, and could be helpful to your case, YOU are responsible for making sure they are presented again at your appeal hearing. Decide who your witnesses will be, if any, and make sure they will attend your hearing. Before the hearing, you and your attorney, or authorized representative have the right to review the case file.

Evidence for Consideration

Only evidence which has been presented at the hearing will be considered, therefore you should bring with you any documents or witnesses 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 a witness who has first-hand information. A person with first-hand information is someone who actually saw or heard the event to which he/she is testifying. His/her testimony is direct and comes from a personal knowledge of the facts. Anyone who testifies about what someone else said, saw, or heard is offering hearsay and has limited knowledge of that event. Some hearsay is admissible as evidence. However, it is generally not as reliable as testimony from someone who has first-hand knowledge because he/she did not directly witness the events in question. Testimony given at the hearing, under oath and subject to cross-examination, is considered to be the highest and most reliable form of testimony.

Think carefully about who might have the most personal knowledge about your case. Do not bring a colleague or friend simply because he/she believes you are telling the truth. Rather, bring a witness to the key events, someone who can directly help you support your case.

Attorney Representation

You have the right to have an attorney to represent you at your hearing. As always, the Referee will make sure all parties are given an opportunity to present their case. It is the Referee's job to make sure each party receives a fair and unbiased hearing, whether or not he/she chooses to have representation. If you believe your case is complicated, or are uncomfortable presenting it yourself, then you have the right to have a lawyer present. Your attorney will be given an opportunity to question the witness. If you choose to have legal representation, contact your attorney immediately so as to allow ample time to prepare for the hearing. It is your responsibility to notify your attorney of the time and place of the hearing and to discuss any fees associated with that representation.

Special Accommodations

If you need special services, such as accommodations for persons with disabilities or an interpreter to present your facts at the hearing, contact the Board of Review in advance so that the necessary arrangements can be made in time for your hearing, (401) 462-9400. Interpreting services are available at no cost to you.

At Your Hearing

Be Prompt. It is important that you are present at your appeal and that your arrive promptly. You are advised to arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time of your hearing. If you do not appear 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 to you may not be considered. Failure to appear may result in a denial of rights to further appeal.

The Hearing Procedure. The procedure is a fact-finding process. It can be thought of as a trial, but it is not as formal. The appeal hearing is carefully controlled by the Referee. This is done to make sure each person has an equal opportunity to present his/her case. The hearing will begin with the Referee making an opening statement about what will happen during the hearing. He/she will answer any questions you might have about the hearing process. The Referee will only use information presented at the hearing to reach a decision.

The Referee will begin receiving testimony by swearing in all of the parties that will testify at the hearing. 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 he/she had "good cause" for leaving. If the employer dismissed the claimant, it will be the employer's burden to prove that the claimant was dismissed due to misconduct. The party carrying the burden of proof usually presents his/her case first. The Referee will usually ask questions of the claimant and allow them to tell their side of the story. Witnesses may also be asked to testify. Witnesses may also be sequested. After answering all of the Referee's questions, the witness will then be allowed to explain his/her answers and offer any additional or relevant information. The party who requested the witness's testimony will then have the opportunity to "cross examine" or question the witness. The next witness is then called and the same procedure is followed.

When one side has finished presenting his/her case, the opposing side will then have the opportunity to cross examine the witnesses, and will be given the opportunity to present his/her case. The Referee will close the hearing when neither side has any additional information or evidence to present. Most hearings involving a separation last approximately 30 minutes. All testimony given at the hearing is taken under oath and tape-recorded. If you become confused at any time during the hearing, ask the Referee for assistance. Finally, it is important to remember that the goal of the hearing is to gather facts, not to get into an argument. Arguing or getting angry during a hearing prevents you from being able to to clearly state 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.

After your Hearing. You will be mailed a written decision from the Referee within 10 days of the hearing. This decision will inform you as to whether the original decision of the Department's Unemployment Compensation section, or TDI Division has been affirmed, modified or dismissed. You should continue to file for benefits each week while awaiting the decision on your case.

Telephone Hearings

Telephone hearings provide a convenient means for you to participate in a hearing without the expense or time required to travel to a central hearing site. The Board of Review schedules telephone hearings by taking into consideration many details such as the number of witnesses and documents, the anticipated length of the hearing, the distance of the hearing location from those attending, and the safety of the participants.

In a telephone hearing, your testimony, and that of your witness, is taken under oath over the phone. The referee 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 and question the other parties involved. If your hearing is to take place by telephone, it will be clearly marked as a Telephone Hearing on your Notice of Appeals Hearing.

You must call the Board of Review at least 15 minutes before your hearing as directed on your Notice of Appeals Hearing. The Referee will call you back at the time stated on the Notice. Be prepared for a delay in the event that the Referee has difficulty placing the call, contacting all parties, or if the previous hearing runs longer than expected.

Appeal to the Board of Review

If you do not agree with the decision of the Referee, you can appeal to the three member Board of Review within 15 days of the mailing date of the decision.

The appeal must be made in writing and mailed to the Board of Review, Center General Complex, 41 West Road, Hazard Bldg., 1st Floor, Cranston, RI 02920, or faxed to (401) 462-9401 or filed Online.

The Board of Review reserves the right to grant a second hearing, but primarily rules by review using the record established at the Referee hearing. Your letter should state clearly why you disagree with the Referee's findings, and should indicate what new evidence or argument you wish the Board to consider.

Important notice about your appeal

If you do not understand this notice, please contact the Board of Review to speak with a Spanish interpreter. Spanish interpreters are available to assist you at your hearing. You cannot use your own interpreter. The Board of Review will provide an interpreter for you. It is important that you call the Board of Review at, 401-462-9400, at least seven (7) days prior to your hearing to request an interpreter.

The Board of Review is responsible to provide interpreter services at no cost to you. You are responsible for requesting these services in accordance with the procedure outlined in this notice.