20 CFR § 10.617 - How is an oral hearing conducted?

§ 10.617 How is an oral hearing conducted?

(a) The hearing representative retains complete discretion to set the time, place and method of the hearing, including the amount of time allotted for the hearing, considering the issues to be resolved. Any requests for reasonable accommodation by individuals with disabilities should be made through the procedure described in the initial acknowledgement letter.

(b) Unless otherwise directed in writing by the claimant, the hearing representative will mail a notice of the time, place and method of the oral hearing to the claimant and any representative at least 30 days before the scheduled date. The employer will also be mailed a notice at least 30 days before the scheduled date.

(c) The hearing is an informal process, and the hearing representative is not bound by common law or statutory rules of evidence, by technical or formal rules of procedure or by section 5 of the Administrative Procedure Act, but the hearing representative may conduct the hearing in such manner as to best ascertain the rights of the claimant. During the hearing process, the claimant may state his or her arguments and present new written evidence in support of the claim. Hearings are limited to one hour; this limitation may be extended in the discretion of the hearing representative.

(d) Testimony at oral hearings, including those conducted by teleconference, videoconference or other electronic means, is recorded, then transcribed and placed in the record. Oral testimony shall be made under oath. The transcript of the hearing is the official record of the hearing.

(e) OWCP will furnish a transcript of the oral hearing to the claimant and the employer, who have 20 days from the date it is sent to comment. The employer shall send any comments to OWCP and the claimant, who will have 20 more days from the date of the agency's certificate of service to comment.

(f) The hearing remains open for the submittal of additional evidence until 30 days after the hearing is held, unless the hearing representative, in his or her sole discretion, grants an extension. Only one such extension may be granted. A copy of the decision will be mailed to the claimant's last known address, to any representative, and to the employer.

(g) The hearing representative determines the conduct of the oral hearing and may terminate the hearing at any time he or she determines that all relevant evidence has been obtained, or because of misbehavior on the part of the claimant and/or representative.

(h) Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8126, if an individual disobeys or resists a lawful order or process in proceedings under this part, or misbehaves during a hearing or in a manner so as to obstruct the hearing, OWCP may certify the facts to the appropriate U.S. District Court, which may, if the evidence warrants, punish the individual in the same manner and to the same extent as for a contempt committed before the court, or commit the individual on the same conditions as if the forbidden act had occurred with reference to the process of or in the presence of the court.