Unemployment Compensation: How to Get What is Coming to You (Video, FAQs, & Brochure)

Authored By: Acadiana Legal Service Corporation (text) Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (presentation)
Read this in:
Spanish / Español

Unemployment Compensation Video

FAQs about Unemployment Compensation

I lost my job. Now what? +

The first thing you should do is file a claim at the unemployment office or file an unemployment claim online. To file online, you will first need to create an account. Even if you were fired for good cause, you still should file to preserve your rights to unemployment benefits on future claims. Normally, you should be able to receive your unemployment benefits unless one of the following is true:

  • You are not able to, or available for work;
  • You were fired for "misconduct connected with the work";
  • You are unemployed due to your participation in a labor-management dispute;
  • You have failed to apply for or accept "available, suitable work";
  • You voluntarily quit and it wasn't because your employer significantly changed your working conditions;
  • You didn't work long enough to be covered;
  • Your job wasn't covered by unemployment insurance.

I applied for unemployment benefits and my claim was denied. Can I appeal? +

If you've applied for unemployment benefits, but have been turned down, you should know about your right to appeal. When you appeal, a different person looks at your case. If you win the appeal, then you get your benefits. If you appeal as a claimant, you should continue to file weekly claims until a final decision is rendered or until you return to work.  That way, if you win your appeal, you will receive benefits for all of the time you were out of work. 

How to File An Unemployment Claim Appeal
  1. Online @ www.LAWORKS.net,
  2. By fax to (225) 342-4223, or
  3. By mail addressed to Louisiana Workforce Commission, Appeals Unit, P. O. Box 94094, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9094.  If mailed, the letter must be postmarked no more than 15 days from the date of the determination and must be signed by the person filing the appeal. If you file the appeal by mail, enclose a complete copy of the determination with your letter of appeal.  

What are the steps of appeal? Is it easy to appeal? +

An appeal is easier than you think!  There are three steps to appeal.  The steps are outlined in detail below. You don't need a lawyer to appeal the first two steps. You can visit your local unemployment office and ask to fill out an appeal form or you can start the appeal online.


Step One: Appeal to the ALJ Within 15 Days of the Mailing Date of the LWC's Adverse Decision

When you appeal a decision made by the unemployment office, formally called the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC), an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") will hear your case. You must appeal within 15 days from the date the LWC mailed the decision turning you down.  Tip: When you receive the decision in the mail, check the post-marked date on the envelope.  Mark 15 days from that date on your calendar. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays are counted in the 15 days, unless the last day of the 15 days lands on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday.  If the 15th day is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, the deadline is the next calendar day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or holiday. 

Claimant Rights at the ALJ Hearing Level

You have the right to have a lawyer or other advocate with you at the hearing.  You have a right to look at your file and see what your boss has said about you.  You also have the right to have the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) subpoena witnesses to testify for you, whether you have a lawyer or not.

How to Subpoena A Witness 

You have a right to ask the judge to subpoena witnesses and documents that you may want to use at the hearing. Requests for subpoenas must be submitted in writing. They shall contain the name and address of the witness and a statement of what is intended to be proven by his or her testimony. Such a request must be received by the administrative law judge or board at least 72 hours prior to the time for which the hearing is scheduled. If a request is timely made but service is not perfected or cannot be perfected in time for the appearance of the witness, this shall be grounds for a postponement.


Step Two: Appeal to the Board of Review Within 15 Days of the Mailing Date of the ALJ's Adverse Decision 

If the ALJ rules against you, you have the right to appeal the ALJ's decision, too.  You must appeal within 15 days of the date the ALJ mailed the notice turning you down. The Board of Review will look over the record of your case and listen to the tape of your hearing before the judge.  It may grant a new hearing if you have witnesses or new evidence which you could not have presented at the hearing with the ALJ. 


Understand that witnesses or evidence that you knew about and could have presented at the hearing with the ALJ will not be grounds for a new hearing.  Since you have the right to subpoena witnesses, a witness can be ordered by law to attend your hearing.  If you are unable to obtain documents, you should be able to explain what kept you from getting the documents. 


Step Three: Appeal to the District Court Within 15 Days from Mailing of the Board of Review's Adverse Decision

If the Board of Review rules against you, you may file a suit in district court. You must file within 15 days of the date the Board of Review mailed the notice turning down your appeal.  There is no rule that you have to have a lawyer to make this appeal and to represent you in court, but you will be at a big disadvantage if you do not have one. 


To help familiarize yourself with the appeal process, read these Frequently Asked Questions About Unemployment Appeals. You might also want to skim the Rules for Appeals, especially if you will need to subpoena witnesses for your appeal.  

I missed one of the 15-day appeal deadlines, but I know my case is good. Can I appeal late? +

Maybe not.  Do not let any of your 15-day deadlines pass.  Once these deadlines have passed, you may not be able to make your appeal, no matter how good your case is. 

Tip: When you receive the decision in the mail, check the post-marked date on the envelope.  Mark 15 days from that date on your calendar.   Saturdays, Sundays and holidays do count unless the 15th day is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday. If the 15th day is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, the deadline is the next calendar day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or holiday.

Postponement or Continuance of Hearing

If you have a good reason to change the scheduled hearing date, you can submit a written request to the administrative law judge to reschedule the hearing.  When a legal hearing is rescheduled, it is called a "continuance," and your written request should include the reason or reasons why you need a continuance. The written request must be submitted to the ALJ whose name and address are on the notice of hearing. 


If you miss the hearing, the ALJ will rule against you by default. 

What happens at the hearing with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)? +

Purpose of the ALJ Hearing: Creating a Record 

You get your "day in court", so to speak!  What this means is you must present all evidence in your favor at the ALJ hearing.  Evidence means your own testimony, witness testimony, and documents that show support your claim.  Before the hearing, you should have a strategy mapped out.  You will only be given a few minutes to show that you were not fired for "misconduct" or that you quit because your employer changed your working conditions.


The ALJ will make an audio record of every word spoken once the hearing begins.  If the side which loses at this hearing appeals to the Board of Review, or to a court, there will not be a new hearing there.  At either of these appeals, they will only look at the papers used at the hearing before the judge and listen to the tape of that hearing.  The papers used and the testimony given at the hearing is the "record" of the case. 


Stipulations of Fact

Parties can "stipulate" or agree to the facts before the hearing or on the hearing date.  You should know that if there is a discussion of the facts before the ALJ formally starts the hearing, that discussion may not be recorded. This kind of discussion is called an "off-the-record" matter.  If you agree to a stipulation, make sure that you are able to review each of the facts included in the stipulation and make sure that all of the facts you believe are important are included. Anything left out of the stipulations of fact will not be considered by the ALJ or the Board of Review in later appeals. 


Witness Testimony: Direct Examination and Cross-Examination

The ALJ hears testimony.  Both sides and witnesses may testify. Each side can ask questions of their own witnesses.  Asking questions of your own witness is called "direct examination." 

Each side can also ask questions of the other side's witness.  Asking questions of the other side's witness or asking questions of the other side (your boss) is called "cross-examination".  The ALJ can also ask questions of any witness.   

Both sides have the right to bring their own witnesses to testify.  Your witnesses can agree to come to the hearing.  If someone will not agree to come, they can be subpoenaed.  If a witness is subpoenaed by your request, they are "your" witness.   

At the hearing, you can object if your boss tries to tell things that he or she did not see or hear themselves. Your boss cannot testify about what other people may have seen or heard. You can also object to any testimony that does not have to do with the facts of your claim. 

I was awarded unemployment benefits! How can I be cut off? +

If you receive unemployment benefits, you can be cut off if:

  • You don't continue looking for work by contacting at least one employer each week;
  • You don't go to a job interview the unemployment office sets up for you;
  • You turn down a job offer without a good reason; or
  • You don't go to the unemployment office when requested to go.

If you do get cut off unemployment, you can appeal the same way you could if you had been turned down when you first applied. For more information or help, call the office of the free legal services program that serves the parish where you live.

Unemployment Brochure (Download)

Last Review and Update: Apr 08, 2020

Contacting the LiveHelp service...