Kentucky Court of Appeals Rules Employers Must be Represented by Licensed Attorneys in Unemployment Hearings​

April 29, 2019

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has held the longstanding Kentucky law allowing a non-lawyer to represent a business entity at an administrative unemployment hearing is unconstitutional. For decades, Kentucky law has permitted employers who contestformer employees’ claims for unemployment benefits to designate a human resources officer, a managerial employee, a third-party company, or another non-lawyer to represent their interests in administrative unemployment hearings. The court ruled the law is an unconstitutional effort by the legislative branch to exercise the judicial branch’s exclusive authority to regulate the practice of law. Under the court’s decision, any employer organized as a legal entity (such as a corporation or limited liability company) must now be represented by a licensed attorney in any unemployment hearings. A non-lawyer attempting to represent a company could be accused of the unauthorized practice of law. Kentucky employers will have to make a choice between incurring the expense of hiring a lawyer to contest unemployment claims or declining to contest claims.