Unemployment Appeals Tribunal

Welcome to the Division of Employment Security (DES) Appeals Tribunal. The Tribunal conducts hearings to allow parties to present evidence to show that the determination regarding unemployment insurance (UI) benefits made by the DES is right or wrong. Individuals filing for UI benefits can appeal the determination of ineligibility, disqualification, or the amount of UI benefits awarded within 30 days. Equally, employers can appeal the determination of eligibility, qualification, or the amount of benefits awarded to their former employees within 30 days. This hearing may be the only opportunity a party may have to present evidence.

Who We Are/What We Do

The Appeals Tribunal is a quasi-judicial body housed in the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations - Division of Employment Security (DES). Its function is to make decisions on appeals that arise from determinations made by a DES official (referred to as a deputy). The person who hears and decides an appeal from a deputy's determination is called a Referee.

Referees conduct hearings and issue written decisions in appeals from decisions regarding:

  • Regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits
  • Tax liability of an employer
  • Special UI programs such as the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) Program, and the Trade Readjustment Assistance (TRA) Program

Generally, a worker is entitled to receive UI benefits if he/she:

  • Has earned sufficient wages from insured work
  • Has lost a job through no fault of his/her own or quit for a valid reason related to the work or the employer
  • Is able to work and available for work
  • Is actively seeking work

Independence of the Appeals Tribunal

As required by federal and Missouri Employment Security Law, the Tribunal provides a fair and impartial hearing to all parties affected by a deputy's determination. The decision-making process of the Appeals Tribunal is independent of DES and its sections.

It is a basic requirement for a fair hearing that a Referee be free to make a decision upon the merits of a case by exercising his/her own independent judgment. In making a decision, the Referee is required to follow the Missouri Employment Security Law, applicable federal law and regulations, and DES regulations. He/she also is required to adhere to court decisions that interpret these statutes and regulations. Within these limits, however, he/she is not bound to uphold the deputy's determination. It is his/her duty to hear and examine all relevant and material evidence provided and render a fair and impartial decision based on that evidence.

While a Referee must follow precedents set by the courts, the he/she has some latitude in determining whether or not a particular case falls within the precedents established by the courts. The facts in a case before the Referee may be distinguishable from those present in seemingly applicable prior court cases. Within reasonable limits, factual differences in cases will support different conclusions.

Hearings before the Appeals Tribunal

Most appeals hearings take place over the phone, but parties have the right to request an in-person hearing. All parties to the appeal are provided an opportunity to participate in a hearing. The Referee will take evidence and sworn testimony regarding the issue under consideration. The hearing is "de novo", which means that the Referee hears the matter from the beginning and that the parties must present evidence to the Referee even though such evidence had been previously given to the deputy. The information that the Referee hears is most often about the circumstances surrounding the claimant's separation from employment. The parties have the right to have legal representation at the hearing and also to present witnesses. The hearing is recorded. The recording, together with the case file containing the documents entered into evidence, becomes the official record of the hearing. The Referee issues a written decision, which contains his/her findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decision.

Authority of the Referee

During a hearing, the Referee has the authority and responsibility to:

  • Conduct and control the hearing
  • Identify the issues and establish the order in which persons will testify
  • Admit DES records as exhibits
  • Question witnesses and assist parties in questioning witnesses, if appropriate
  • Rule on admissibility of testimony and documents
  • Stop the presentation of evidence not relevant to the case

Labor and Industrial Relations Commission

The party that loses as a result of the Referee's decision has 30 days to appeal that decision to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission. DES also may appeal the decision to the Commission.

The Labor and Industrial Relations Commission generally does not hold another hearing. Instead, it makes its decision based on a review of the entire record created at the hearing before the Referee.

The Commission may affirm, reverse, or modify the Referee's decision. The Commission also may send the case back to the Referee (remand) for further proceedings if the record is inadequate.

The party that loses at the Commission level may appeal to the appropriate Court of Appeals within 30 days of the Commission's decision. DES also may appeal the Commission's decision.

More information about the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission

Note: An appeal cannot be filed by email or phone.