Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pennsylvania Telephone Unemployment Hearings Soon to be the Norm in Pennsylvania

New Changes to Pennsylvania Unemployment Law Will Make Telephone Unemployment Hearings the Norm

Once upon a time, one could only obtain permission to appear at an unemployment Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation hearing via telephone upon proof that one's residence or business was located more than 60 miles from the hearing site.

The 2011 amendments the Pennsylvania's Unemployment Law now make it possible for anyone to obtain permission to appear at such hearings telephonically upon mere request, irrespective of one's location.

On the surface, this looks good, particularly for claimants who have since become re-employed. 

However, I believe that the new telephone hearing law will greatly disadvantage unsuspecting employees who lack familiarity with the unemployment hearing process, to the benefits of attorney-counseled companies who have been going to unemployment hearings for years.

In addition to the strategical advantages that an employer can gain by appearing telephonically, it is also a cost-effective approach because, among other things, it eliminates the need for company representatives and witnesses to leave work and travel to and from the hearing location.  I note also that, in the past, it seemed to me that employers were sometimes reluctant to present some witnesses at a hearing, either due to work commitments  or out of fear that they would not do well under face-to face cross examination.  To my way of thinking, both such concerns are somewhat ameliorated by the new rules making it easy to appear telephonically at Pennsylvania unemployment hearings.

NOTE:  While in a telephone hearing Referee's make clear that witnesses are not to "signal" each other - i.e. a shake or nod of the head, mouthing answers, exchanging notes, does anyone believe that this does not occur?  It isn't hard to envision a "lowly" employee/witness being quietly (imperceptibly) "coached" by his/her boss to give certain responses, is it?  This would never, ever happen in front of a Hearing Room (or Courtroom), but it's easy to envision it happening in the boss's office, isn't it?

Therefore, for these reasons and others, I surmise many companies will increasingly seek to appear telephonically at unemployment hearings in Pennsylvania

My Employer is Appearing By Telephone at my Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearing - How Do I Prepare?

Click Here for some strategical tips on how to prepare for a telephone hearing.

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