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Should I get a lawyer for an unemployment appeal?

Posted by B&F System Admin | Feb 28, 2022

After receiving a denied unemployment claim, you have a chance to make an appeal. But the timeline is tight, the process can be complicated and it's certain that your former employer will have legal representation. That's why a lawyer who specializes in unemployment claims can help. Having an attorney during the appeals process typically increases your chance of collecting much-need unemployment payments while searching for your next opportunity.

Why unemployment benefits are denied

When your unemployment claim is denied, the Georgia Department of Labor will notify you by mail. The letter should specify why your claim was turned down or why your employer is contesting your claim.

Sometimes, you're simply not qualified to receive unemployment benefits because of how long you were on the current or prior job. Your claim may also be denied if you haven't been searching for work and documenting your applications.

Other times, however, a mistake or misrepresentation on the part of your former employer is holding you back from collecting benefits you're entitled to. Your claim may be denied:

  • If you were fired for misconduct: Employees who violated their company policies may be fired and rightfully denied unemployment. If you were not actually fired for misconduct or there is a good explanation for your termination, you may have good grounds for an appeal.
  • If you quit your job: Georgia requires that you leave your job through no fault or agency of your own. While some states assume there are valid reasons to quit a job, Georgia usually only allows this if you haven't been paid or if your employer changed your employment agreement. If your claim is denied because you quit your job, but you were actually fired or forced out, you may have good grounds for an appeal.

An attorney who specializes in helping with unemployment claims can review your case and the reasons for your denial to help determine if you have a viable appeal.

How to make an unemployment appeal

Once you've received your denial from the Georgia Department of Labor, you only have 15 days to file an appeal. After you've filed, the Appeals Tribunal will notify you of your hearing date. If you haven't already spoken to an unemployment benefits lawyer and you'd like an opinion on your case, do so now. An attorney can ensure you collect the evidence you need forxxxcd a strong showing at your hearing.

Regardless of whether you seek representation, keep up with unemployment benefits requirements, even though you're not receiving them. This means continuing to file weekly claims and record your job search. If you win your appeal, you'll have the documentation needed to retroactively collect for these weeks without work.

How your unemployment appeal hearing will work

During your hearing, you'll have the chance to present documents and witness statements, plus give your own testimony. An attorney who regularly handles unemployment claims will understand how the process works, how to make a good case that you are entitled to benefits, and when to object if your former employer includes inadmissible evidence. 

After the hearing, the administrative hearing officer will release a written decision. If you win, you'll soon begin receiving payments and back payments, but your employer can still appeal the decision. If you lose, you can appeal a second time with the Board of Review, and a third and final time to the Georgia Superior Court.

While not everyone should appeal a denied unemployment claim, an attorney can help you assess your situation and advise you accordingly. An unemployment benefits lawyer can also review the circumstances of your dismissal and advise you of any potential legal claims you may have. At Barrett & Farahany, we are happy to answer your questions. Please contact us to speak to one of our attorneys.

About the Author


When you reach out to us, you will receive a complimentary consultation with one of our skilled Atlanta employment attorneys. During our initial consultation with you, we can help you to better understand your rights and will work with you to determine what course of action is in your best interest. We take great pride in providing assistance based on years of experience negotiating and litigating employment matters to protect employee interests. If you find yourself in need of dedicated legal representation, we are prepared to advocate on your behalf – our goal is always to protect employee victims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.