554 Appeals

554.1 State Law Requirements

State employment security laws provide for (a) administrative appeals at two levels in state agency proceedings and (b) appeals to state courts. Appeals may be initiated by the claimant or by the Postal Service.

The state agency’s notice of determination of a claimant’s benefit rights includes (a) the determination and the basis for it and (b) information concerning appeal rights and the time within which an appeal may be filed.

554.2 Initial Level Appeals by Claimants

All claimants, including former probationary employees, have the right to request additional information (see 553.22) for clarification of Postal Service findings or to correct errors and omissions in their records. If a claimant is not satisfied with a state agency’s determination, the claimant has the right to appeal the determination. Notices of such appeals received by postal managers are referred to their respective Postal Service state coordinators (see 554.414).

554.3 Initial Level Appeals by the Postal Service

554.31 Cause to Appeal

If the Postal Service believes that a state agency’s determination in awarding unemployment compensation is incorrect, the Postal Service may appeal the determination under the applicable state employment security law.

554.32 Initiation of Appeal

The Postal Service state coordinator files an appeal whenever:

  1. The state agency appears to have misinterpreted or disregarded the Postal Service’s findings.
  2. The Postal Service believes the determination is not in accordance with the provisions of the state employment security law.

554.4 Postal Service Participation in Appeals

554.41 Representation
554.411 Preparation for Appeal

The Postal Service state coordinator:

  1. Ensures that the Postal Service is represented at state unemployment compensation appeal hearings (representation should include Postal Service employee(s) with first–hand knowledge of the case).
  2. Ensures that all documented evidence that supports the Postal Service’s position is submitted.
554.412 Appearance As a Witness

A postal representative with first–hand knowledge of the case in question who appears before a state appeal hearing as a witness on behalf of the Postal Service provides evidence concerning the facts that support Postal Service findings. Evidence provided at state appeal hearings may be in the form of oral testimony or written documentation. (For sources of information to be used as evidence, see 554.43.)

554.413 Appearance As an Appellant

When the Postal Service initiates an appeal against a state agency’s determination (see 554.31), the Postal Service state coordinator ensures the presence of a postal representative at the state appeal hearing. The postal representative is an individual who has first–hand knowledge of the facts in the appeal case. The representative offers oral testimony or written documentation as argument in support of the Postal Service findings. (For sources of information to be used as evidence, see 554.43.)

554.414 Appearance As an Appellee

When the Postal Service receives a notice of an appeal hearing in which it is an appellee, the Postal Service state coordinator reviews the facts of the case and notifies a postal representative having first–hand knowledge of the case to appear on its behalf. The representative presents oral testimony or written documentation (see 554.43) in support of Postal Service findings.

554.42 New Evidence by Claimant

In those appeal hearings in which a claimant introduces new evidence, the Postal Service representative either replies with Postal Service evidence and arguments or requests a continuation of the case in order to prepare a response to the new evidence.

554.43 Disclosure of Information
554.431 Routine

During a state unemployment compensation appeal hearing, the Postal Service has the legal authority to disclose all relevant information from any of the systems of records appearing in the list in chapter 3 of the Administrative Support Manual (ASM). All postal records presented as evidence during state appeal hearings are excised of all irrelevant information not pertaining to the claimant’s reason(s) for separation and for the appeal or the Postal Service’s reason(s) for separation of the claimant and for the appeal.

554.432 Medical Records

Only medical information that directly relates to the reason(s) the claimant was separated can be presented as evidence during a state appeal hearing. However, in those instances in which the relevant information contains a reference to a malignancy or mental condition, a medical officer is contacted for the purpose of determining whether the claimant previously has been made aware of its existence. If the claimant has not been made aware of the condition, the information is not to be disclosed. If such evidence is essential to the Postal Service case, a cautionary statement is sent to the state referee prior to the hearing, indicating the importance of such evidence and the possible psychological effect it may have on the claimant if released during the hearing.

554.433 Inspection Service Records

Whenever documents originated by the Inspection Service are involved in an appeal hearing, the appropriate inspector in charge is notified by the Postal Service state coordinator. The material in question is referred to the chief postal inspector for review and approval prior to release.

554.434 Managing Field Counsel

The managing field counsel for the area is consulted when any questions or problems arise in interpreting Postal Service Privacy Act regulations or interpreting implementation instructions. The chief field counsel is consulted if:

  1. Disclosure of certain relevant information contained in Personnel Investigation Records may reveal the identity of a source who has requested confidentiality.
  2. Disclosure of certain relevant information contained in either Personnel Research and Test Validation Records, or Recruiting, Examining, Training, and Placement Records might jeopardize the fairness or objectivity of an examination process.

554.5 Appeals (Second Level) to State Appellate Board

Either the claimant or the Postal Service may appeal a determination made by the initial level state appeal authority to the second level state appellate authority, which is usually the State Appeals Board. The initial level appeal determination indicates the basis for such a determination, as well as the time frame in which an appeal can be filed. When a Postal Service state coordinator receives an initial level appeal determination that continues to contradict the Postal Service findings based on either of the reasons outlined in 554.32, the Postal Service state coordinator files an appeal based on such arguments. Participation by the Postal Service in second level state appeals are conducted in the same manner as in the initial level appeal process (see 554.4).

554.6 Postal Service Appeals to State Courts

When a determination has been rendered by a State Appellate Board that continues to contradict Postal Service findings, the Postal Service state coordinator immediately contacts the managing field counsel, who initiates appeals to state courts.