Important: The determination is the initial decision whether a claimant will be paid or denied benefits as a result of a particular issue. A determination may also address specific issues that relate to employers (such as tax account charges). A determination will have appeal rights and serves as the "point of entry" into the appeal system.)
A person who files a claim for reemployment benefits is called a "claimant." After the claimant files a claim, the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) initially determines whether the claimant has sufficient work and earnings to be monetarily eligible for a claim under Florida Law. If the claimant has sufficient earnings to be monetarily entitled to a claim, DEO investigates the reason the claimant is unemployed. This investigation includes the claimant's most recent employer, and any other employers the claimant had in the last 12-18 months. An adjudicator then issues a determination addressing each separation that impacts the claim, stating whether the claimant will be disqualified from receiving benefits and whether the employer's tax account will be charged with any benefits paid in connection with the claim. Additionally, during the course of a claim, an adjudicator may address other issues, such as whether a claimant has refused an offer of suitable work without good cause; is able and available for work; has properly claimed weeks for reemployment assistance; is disqualified due to any subsequent separation from employment; or has been overpaid benefits which must be repaid. (These are only some of the issues that may arise.) A determination issued addressing any of these or other issues could lead to a denial of reemployment benefits or affect an employer's tax rate.
Reemployment Assistance Appeals Referees
A claimant or employer who receives an adverse determination has the right to protest that determination and participate in a hearing before an appeals referee. (The procedure for appealing a determination is included on the determination.) Upon receiving an appeal, the Office of Appeals will schedule a hearing involving all interested parties to address the issues. The parties will be mailed a Notice of Hearing telling them when the hearing will be held and whether they are expected to participate in-person or by telephone. Any questions about the hearing or the hearing procedure should be directed to the Office of Appeals. The parties are expected to present all of their evidence and testimony to the appeals referee, who will then make a decision based only upon the evidence and testimony presented during the hearing. An audio recording of the hearing will be made by the referee. When the hearing is completed, the referee will issue a written decision. A party who is dissatisfied with the decision may file a request for review with the Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission.
Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission
A claimant or employer who receives an adverse referee's decision has the right to protest that decision by filing an appeal with the Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission. Additionally, the DEO may appeal a referee's decision to the Commission. (The procedure for appealing a referee's decision is included on the decision.) A party requesting review by the Commission should specify any and all allegations of error with respect to the referee's decision, and provide factual and/or legal support for these challenges. Allegations of error not specifically set forth in the request for review may be considered waived.
Upon receipt of an appeal, the Commission will docket the case and mail a Notice of Docketing to the parties involved in the appeal. The Commission will secure the hearing record from the Office of Appeals. If a timely appeal of the referee's decision has been filed, the Commission will review the hearing record to determine whether the referee's decision is properly supported by the testimony and other evidence presented at the hearing, and whether the referee properly applied the law to the case. The Commission will not hold a hearing in connection with its review and, absent extraordinary circumstances, cannot consider evidence that was not presented to the appeals referee at the hearing. Upon completion of its review, the Commission will issue a written order explaining the disposition of the case and any further appeal rights available to the parties. If the Commission issues an order constituting final agency action, that order can be protested only by filing an appeal with the appropriate State District Court of Appeal.
District Court of Appeals
Section 443.151(4)(e), Florida Statutes, provides that an appeal of a Commission order is subject to review only by filing a notice of appeal in the district court of appeal in the appellate district in which the issues were decided by the appeals referee. As a general proposition, this will be the district court of appeal covering the county where the referee (not the Commission) was located. The Commission is a party to any appeal involving a Commission order, and has the right to defend its order.