In Texas, employees and employers are entitled to a telephone hearing before a hearing officer if either party disagrees with an initial determination issued by the Commission in unemployment benefit and Texas Pay Day Act claims. There are some occasions, however, where an employer may consider foregoing these telephone conferences –even if it means losing the unemployment benefit claim. Telephone hearings before hearing officers are conducted under oath and are recorded. This constitute sworn testimony that will be binding on the parties in subequent proceedings. Some attorneys representing employees use these telephone hearings to conduct discovery on potential discrimination, retaliation, harassment or wage and hour claims they may be thinking about filing. If you appear for an administrative telephonic appeals hearing without your labor and employment counsel and the employee on the other side has a lawyer; think long and hard about whether you want to participate further in the proceeding without advice of counsel. You might win the battle (i.e., the telephone hearing) but lose the war by having the testimony offered at the hearing used against the employer in a more significant lawsuit with more exposure. Sometimes it may be better to just hang up and not oppose the unemployment benefit claim. Follow me on Twitter @RussellCawyer.
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