Davis Brown Employment and Labor Law Blog



Job Service Fact-Finding Interviews - July 27, 2020

Jo Ellen Whitney

Job service can feel daunting, like you’ve walked into a game where you don’t know the rules and feel like you can’t win. But understanding some basics can help you feel more comfortable with the process. Fact-finding interviews occur after an application for unemployment insurance has been filed by a former employee (the claimant) and when the claim is contested by the employer.


Fact-Finding Interviews

Fact-finding interviews are initiated and conducted by Iowa Workforce Development (IWD). Both parties receive a Notice of Unemployment Insurance Fact-Finding Interview letter. It is important to take note of this letter as it contains the scheduled date, time, and telephone number for the interview.


When you respond, make sure your contact data is correct. IWD sometimes misses the call to the employer, so if it is ten minutes past a call time and you have not connected with IWD, call again.


Fact finders at this level are not attorneys and are looking primarily at limited specific factual circumstances. Employers frequently have the experience of trying to talk about a pattern of misconduct only to be told that the fact-finder only cares about the “last” event. In the interview, lead with that event using language like, “she was terminated because she was no call no show and had been warned she would be terminated if this happened. . . there were other performance issues . . . ” This statement is specific. It details the reason for termination, notes she was aware of the policy, and that she would be terminated for the conduct while leaving room to address issues as needed.


Reminders:

  • Stick to relevant facts and try not to divulge any unnecessary information that could be used in later proceedings. Relevant facts include, but are not limited to dates, titles, pay rates, employee responsibilities, employees involved, if they were warned they could be terminated, and the reason for termination.
  • Compile and provide relevant documents including, but not limited to employee records, disciplinary notes, and timeline.
  • Be able to properly articulate why the separation occurred with sufficient details.
  • Take notes during the claimant’s testimony as this information may be relevant later.
  • Prepare to question the claimant. Ask narrow questions and avoid leaving room for run-on answers.
  • Avoid outbursts of emotion and remain tactful. Remember that snotty and unnecessary remarks may be detrimental and cause issues in subsequent proceedings. Having a temper in a fact-finding interview will not serve you well. Think carefully before you speak.

The Big Picture

A favorable decision at the fact-finding stage can determine success in subsequent proceedings. However, even if you do not prevail at this stage, the fact-finding interview can be used to lay an adequate foundation for an appeal. Sufficient preparation at this stage will be helpful if the case proceeds. Plan to take thorough notes of the IWD’s questions and the claimant’s statement so that if the case proceeds, you can share with your attorney.


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