You can appeal most determinations the MDES makes. You must file the appeal within 14 days of the mailing date of the determination that you appeal.
Mississippi Department of Employment Security
P.O. Box 1699
Jackson, MS 39215-1699
Fax: 877- 994-6329
Include your social security number and the reason you’re filing the appeal in your request letter. You don’t have to make your entire argument in the letter; a simple statement why you are filing the appeal will be sufficient.
Preparing for the Appeal
When you request the appeal in a timely manner, the Department will send a Notice of Hearing. The notice will include the date, time and place of the hearing. Generally, the Department holds hearings by telephone. However, they may hold hearings in person if the situation warrants it.
Your former employer will receive notice of the hearing and they have the right to participate. They can dispute whatever claims you make.
If you discover you have a scheduling conflict when you receive the notice, you must call the Department immediately to attempt to reschedule. The judge who is assigned the hearing will decide whether you have a compelling reason to reschedule.
Right to Representation
You have the right to representation at these hearings. You may hire an attorney; the state will not provide one for you in this case. You may also have someone else represent you, such as a friend or former coworker. Note that this friend may not testify in the hearing if they are representing you.
It is not necessary to have a representative. While many employers hire a representative, some do not. Many claimaints represent themselves in appeals hearings with little difficulty.
You may also request accommodations for the hearing. If you need help because of a disability or a language interpreter, you must notify the Appeals Department as soon as possible.
Testimony, Evidence and Witnesses
You have the right to present any relevant evidence that could prove your case. You have the right to have witnesses testify to the events that led to your separation from work. These witnesses should have first-hand knowledge regarding what happened. Having a witness who only “heard” what happened is insufficient.
If you have evidence to present, the judge and the opposing party need to see it. Make copies available to them prior to the hearing. You must do this at least three days before the hearing date. This means the judge should have it by that day.
If you believe a witness is crucial to your case, but they may be reluctant to testify, you may request that the judge on your hearing issue a subpoena. A subpoena will compel the witness to appear at the hearing and you, the judge and your former employer may question them. The judge will decide whether or not to issue the subpoena.
Gather your evidence, consider what happened and form a good argument on your behalf. Be ready to present the facts to the judge at the hearing.
What Happens in an Unemployment Appeals Hearing
The hearing itself is an informal, administrative hearing. It is similar to a trial, but the rules are relaxed. Still, the judge will expect both parties to the hearing to behave as if they were in a courtroom.
Call into the hearing on time, or appear at the venue at least 15 minutes prior to the start time. If you are significantly late, the judge may determine that you have failed to appear. This will affect you negatively, especially if you are the appealing party.
The judge will explain the rules and processes of the hearing and swear in both parties. The judge may swear in the witnesses at the beginning of the hearing, or wait until it is their turn to speak.
The judge will determine which party proceeds first. The appealing party may go first, or the party that has the burden of proof in the case may go first.
If the issue is whether you quit your job without good cause, you have the burden to prove you did have good cause. So then, you would present your testimony first. If the issue is whether the employer fired you for misconduct, the employer must prove this, so the employer would go first.
The judge will ask questions to help you present the facts as you see them. The judge will allow you the opportunity to present evidence. The employer will have the opportunity to ask you questions about your testimony and evidence. When you are finished, the employer will then present their testimony (if you testified first).
The judge may ask either party questions at any time during the hearing.
When both parties have finished presenting testimony, the judge may allow closing statements before ending the hearing.
The judge will issue a decision by mail. You will not know the outcome at the end of the hearing. If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you will have the opportunity to appeal the judge’s decision to the Board of Review. The decision will contain instructions on how to appeal to this level.