Associate Aakruti G. Vakharia, under the guidance and supervision of Partner Brian P. Murphy, represented a pro bono client at a New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board hearing on April 20, 2022. The pro bono opportunity became available through Haug Partners’ relationship with Volunteers Of Legal Service (VOLS) in New York City. Aakruti conducted an evidentiary hearing before a Senior Administrative Law Judge and won a judgment awarding unemployment benefits to her client.
The NYS Department of Labor initially determined that the client was not eligible to receive unemployment benefits because she allegedly quit her job voluntarily. During a six-hour telephonic hearing, Aakruti conducted a direct examination of her client, a cross examination of the employer’s management witness, and delivered a closing argument to the ALJ. During the hearing, Aakruti also had the opportunity to think on her feet, articulate evidentiary objections, and incorporate newly raised arguments and documents into her cross examination and closing argument. The ALJ determined that (1) the client filed her denial-of-benefits appeal on time, and (2) the client did not voluntarily leave her employment, which ended under non-disqualifying circumstances. The ALJ, therefore, found that the client was entitled to receive her unemployment benefits.