Many claimants find themselves, after a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), either with or without an attorney, either further denied benefits or reversed and owing back the unemployment benefits they received to the State and the unemployment fund. Accompanying these ALJ decisions is a sheet of paper containing a claimaint's rights to appeal and the process and procedures which often goes unnoticed and ignored. A lot of claimants believe that the ALJ's decision is the final say but Wisconsin provides for several layers of appeals.
Whether it is a good decision or worth appealing an ALJ's adverse decision is not always clear-cut and depends on a number of factors that are best discussed with an attorney who routinely handles unemployment compensation matters and is beyond the scope of this article. Here is a brief outline of appellate rights for claimants to follow and understand:
Upon receiving the ALJ's decision from the unemployment insurance department, you will have a certain number of days to file an appeal with the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) and an appeal may be filed a number of ways including electronically here, or by mail. Upon a successful appeal submission, LIRC will mail out confirmation and further instructions and either party, claimant or employer, may request the appeal to be "briefed," meaning the parties thoroughly make their legal argument on why they should prevail. However, briefing is not mandatory and not always necessary. LIRC then makes a decision based on the recording of the hearing and documents submitted into evidence but does not hold new hearings know as de novo hearings.
Should a claimant receive another unfavorable decision from LIRC, an appeal may then be filed in circuit court pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 108.09(7)(a) within 30 calendar days from the date the decision was mailed to the party’s last known address. The process and procedure for filing is more involved and handled under Chapter 227 of the Wisconsin Statutes which describes the procedure more thoroughly. These types of appeals are commonly-referred to as "paper appeals" as they consist of filings and no hearing is held.
Now of course even the circuit court's decision could be appealed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and the Court of Appeals decision appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court but such extensive appeals are incredibly rare and expensive. This is why it is best to consult with an attorney before embarking on the appeals process to discuss options to better determine whether an appeal is the best decision.