The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Norman v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office on September 1, 2011.
Unemployment Compensation Benefits—Appeal—Notice—Hearing—Good Cause.
In this unemployment compensation benefits case, claimant sought review of a final order of the Industrial Claim Appeals Office (Panel) denying his request for a new hearing. The order was set aside and the case was remanded.
On January 10, 2011, claimant was awarded unemployment compensation benefits in a deputy’s decision based on his separation from employment with GMRI, Inc. (employer). Employer timely appealed the deputy’s decision to the Division of Employment (Division) on January 25, 2011. Employer’s appeal was not served on claimant.
The first notice sent to claimant that employer had appealed the deputy’s decision was the Division’s notice of hearing sent to him on February 3, 2011. This notice informed claimant that the hearing on employer’s appeal was set for February 15, 2011. Because claimant was on vacation from February 1, 2011 through February 17, 2011, he was unaware of the hearing until it had already taken place. He requested a new hearing as soon as he received the hearing officer’s decision disqualifying him from benefits. The Panel denied claimant’s request for a new hearing, ruling that good cause had not been shown to excuse his absence from the February 15 hearing.
Claimant argued that the Panel abused its discretion in denying his request for a new hearing. The Court of Appeals agreed. Claimant showed good cause for his failure to attend the hearing. He left on his trip after employer’s appeal deadline had expired and without awareness of employer’s notice of appeal. Further, the notice of appeal rights would not give a reasonable and prudent person any reason to expect a hearing to be set and held within days of that deadline. Therefore, the Panel abused its discretion in denying claimant’s request for a new hearing under these circumstances.