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Story of Justice: Ms. Zuluaga Appeals to the Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission

Story of Justice: Ms. Zuluaga Appeals to the Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission

Background

In the summer of 2020, Ms. Zuluaga* lost her job and proceeded to file for unemployment. After receiving several months of unemployment checks, the Department of Employment Opportunity (DEO) notified Ms. Zuluaga that thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits had to be returned to DEO because her employer alleged that she was discharged for misconduct related to work. 

Ms. Zuluaga felt that she was unfairly accused of misconduct because she had always acted professionally at work.

Ms. Zuluaga became very distressed because she had no other income than her unemployment benefits, and had no idea how she would return the thousands of dollars in benefits paid out to her. 

Assistance

Ms. Zuluaga came to Coast to Coast Legal Aid (CCLA) for assistance where her case was assigned to one of CCLA’s attorneys doing pro bono work. Ms. Zuluaga, with the attorney, appealed the disqualification and an evidentiary hearing was scheduled. 

Why It Matters

At the hearing, the employer presented hearsay evidence over the attorney’s objection. Ms. Zuluaga did not win her hearing. Immediately, CCLA appealed to the Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission (RAAC). On appeal, the CCLA attorney helping Ms. Zuluaga was able to convince the RAAC to reverse the decision. Ms. Zuluaga was able to collect $9,425 which during the pandemic helped her remain in her home until she was able to find other work.

*Names and images have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients

 

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