The Civil Service Commission is designated by the County Charter as the administrative appeals body for the County in personnel matters. The Commission is comprised of five citizens appointed by the Board of Supervisors and is supported by a small staff.
- Regular Meetings
- Disciplinary Hearings
- Selection Process Appeals
- Discrimination Complaints
- Compulsory Leave Hearings
- Liberty Interest Hearings
- Rule XI Investigations
- Classification Reviews
- CLERB Appeals
The Civil Service Commission conducts regular meetings on the first and third Wednesday of every month. Open session commences at 2:30 p.m. Agendas for the meetings are mailed (e-mail or regular mail) the Thursday or Friday preceding the meeting. (Civil Service Rule 1.1.10)
Permanent employees in the classified service who have been removed, demoted, suspended or reduced in compensation, may, within ten (10) calendar days after receipt of the order of such disciplinary action, file a written appeal and answer to the charges with the Civil Service Commission.
If the employee has filed the appeal and answer in a timely manner, the Commission appoints one of its members as a hearing officer and a hearing is scheduled based on the schedules of the hearing officer and the parties.
The appellant is entitled to appear at the hearing, to produce evidence and may have an attorney or other representative present. The hearings are generally open to the public and the press for regular employees, but closed for peace officers. The appointing authority bears the burden of proof.
In preparing for the hearing, the appellant or his or her representative has the right to inspect relevant documents which the appointing authority has and which would be admissible at the hearing. Objections can be raised to the provision of certain documents and the hearing officer will decide whether those documents must be provided.
The appellant and/or his or her representative also has the right, prior to the hearing, to interview other employees having knowledge of the acts or omissions upon which the discipline was based. Interviews of those employees and inspection of documents shall be at times and places reasonable for the appellant and the appointing authority.
The parties are responsible to come prepared to the hearing with six (6) copies of all documents/exhibits which they plan to introduce as evidence or present to the hearing officer. Four (4) of the copies must be collated and tabbed into 3-ring binders. The six copies are needed for the following:
1) Hearing Officer – 3-ring binder, tabbed
2) Commission Legal Advisor – 3-ring binder, tabbed
3) Opposing Party – 3-ring binder, tabbed
4) Witness Stand – 3-ring binder, tabbed
5) Commission Office – loose copy
6) Your copy
Please mark each copy of all documents/exhibits and collate them in numeric or alphabetic order prior to the hearing as follows: The Department will number exhibits Department 1, 2, 3, etc. at the bottom right corner of the first page of each exhibit. The Appellant will mark exhibits Appellant A, B, C, etc. at the bottom right corner of the first page of each exhibit. The Commission acknowledges that all marked exhibits may not be introduced as evidence, or additional exhibits may be presented during the hearing and/or the order may vary slightly.
Please use the forms linked below to list all witnesses and exhibits in the order they will be presented. The Commission acknowledges that the order may change depending on unforeseen circumstances during the hearing.
The parties will meet 30 minutes prior to the start of the hearing to exchange exhibits and the witness/exhibit lists. Before the exchange, please drop off three (3) binders, a set of the loose exhibits, and the witness/exhibit lists at the Commission Office in Room 458.
The Commission has the power to issue subpoenas (to order that people be present at the hearing) and subpoenas duces tecum (to order that specific records, documents, etc. be made available). Click here for details on how to request a subpoena and/or a subpoena duces tecum. The parties should cooperate and stagger the scheduling of witnesses to the greatest extent possible, so that time is not wasted for witnesses waiting to be called.
At the hearing, the appellant may be questioned and he or she may question other witnesses. The Commission encourages the parties to discuss issues in advance of the hearing and to narrow the issues at the hearing to only those items actually in dispute. If any charges are not in dispute, the hearing officer should be notified promptly at the start of the hearing. "Stipulations" of facts agreed to in advance of the hearing can save a great deal of time for parties and witnesses.
Technical rules of evidence do not apply to the hearings and hearings are not controlled by formal courtroom procedures. Certain evidence which would not be admissible in court may be admissible in Civil Service hearings. Hearsay evidence is admissible, but only to supplement or explain other evidence. It cannot be used as the sole basis for any findings of fact unless it would be admissible in court.
Even though technical rules of evidence do not apply, the parties may, and frequently do, make the same objections as would be made in court proceedings. The statement of an objection must specify the grounds for objection, for example:
"Objection. The question calls for speculation by the witness."
Once an objection is made, the witness should not answer the question. The hearing officer will make a ruling on the objection, and the witness will be instructed whether he or she may answer.
The parties are usually permitted to make an opening statement and a closing argument. The opening statement is an informal way of familiarizing the hearing officer with the general nature of the case and what evidence is likely to be heard. Closing "argument" (e.g., non-testimony by the parties about the credibility of witnesses or the relative weight of evidence, etc.) should be saved for the final remarks by each party.
Once the hearing is adjourned, the hearing officer will review all of the evidence submitted and will make recommendations to the Commission regarding his or her proposed decision in the case. The Commission will deliberate together as to the appropriate decision in the case and will make a written and oral report of its decision at a public meeting. The hearing officer and Commission staff will attempt to place the matter on its next public meeting agenda following the hearing, if at all possible.
SELECTION PROCESS APPEALS
An affected applicant or employee may appeal to the Commission any component of a County selection process. The Commission may, at its discretion, grant a hearing under Rule X of the Civil Service Rules. The applicant or employee must file a "Petition to Appeal Selection Process" form with the Commission within fifteen (15) calendar days from the date of receipt of notification from the Director of DHR or appointing authority of the action being appealed.
The petition can be downloaded by clicking here "Petition" (to be printed and filled out by hand). A petition form that can be filled out on the computer is available here "Petition Form" (requires Microsoft Word).
If a timely complaint is filed and the Commission grants the request for a hearing, Commission staff will schedule a hearing. The Commission may, pending conduct of the hearing, order a certification and/or selection held in abeyance until a final Commission decision is made.
In a selection process hearing, the person challenging the selection process bears the burden of establishing flaws in the process which may be remedied by the Commission. Therefore, the applicant or employee presents his or her position and evidence first. At least five copies of each document that is to be submitted shall be brought to the hearing for distribution.
As in disciplinary hearings, the Commission encourages the joint submittal of a stipulation of facts and issues. Both parties may present documents and testimony as necessary to the hearing officer and may examine the witnesses. An opportunity is given for both sides to fully present their positions to the hearing officer. As in disciplinary hearings, technical rules of evidence do not apply.
The final action may either affirm, modify, or revoke the determination of the process being appealed. The Commission reviews the findings and proposed decision before taking final action.
Under Rule VI of the Civil Service Rules, an employee or applicant may file a discrimination complaint regarding County employment actions within sixty (60) calendar days of the alleged discriminatory practice, or knowledge thereof. If a complaint is filed in a timely manner, the Commission shall refer the complaint to the Office of Ethics and Compliance for review and report back to the Commission. The Commission may issue such orders as are necessary to maintain the status quo, to bar further actions relative to the employment process in issue, or to avoid potential continuing damages. At the conclusion of the matter, the Commission also has certain authority to remedy violations, as set forth in the rules. There is a form that may be used for filing a discrimination complaint, but a complaint will be accepted in any written form.
Click here to download a "Discrimination Complaint Form" (to be printed and filled out by hand). A discrimination complaint form that can be filled out on the computer is available here "Discrimination Complaint Form Fill-In" (requires Microsoft Word).
COMPULSORY LEAVE HEARINGS
Under the Compensation Ordinance Section 4.3.3, the Commission has authority to review the determinations of appointing authorities to place employees on compulsory leave. An appeal must be filed within ten (10) calendar days of the beginning of the leave. Evidence is taken in an informal hearing format. Often, treating and evaluating physicians will be present to testify. The appointing authority has the burden of proof to show that the action taken was appropriate and was handled properly under the Compensation Ordinance, the Administrative Manual and DHR Policies & Procedures.
LIBERTY INTEREST HEARINGS
Probationary employees who are dismissed during their probationary periods generally have no right of appeal. However, a probationer who alleges facts showing that his or her liberty interest has been violated is entitled to a name-clearing hearing before a hearing officer. Liberty interest is not violated if an employee is terminated for incompetency or inefficiency, only certain types of misconduct. The Commission does not have the authority to reinstate an individual who has been dismissed during his or her probationary period.
RULE XI INVESTIGATIONS
For purposes of protecting the merit basis of the personnel system, the Commission may, in its discretion, investigate the conduct and operations of any department. Investigations of issues arising under this rule are somewhat uncommon, but the Commission does utilize its authority under this rule to review alleged merit-based violations.
Rule XI investigations are informal. The Commissioner appointed to investigate generally takes evidence outside of the presence of other persons, and may make inquiries and do research independently. After review of the findings and proposed decision, the Commission may make any necessary orders, including but not limited to, back pay and classification adjustments, to carry out the provisions of the Charter and the Civil Service Rules.
An employee who can demonstrate that he or she has been assigned and is regularly performing duties and responsibilities outside of his or her class specifications on an involuntary basis for at least fifty percent (50%) of a continuous six (6) month period preceding the request, may, within 60 days of such six month period, begin an appeal process which is set out in Rule XII. The Commission has certain authority to remedy such issues, as further set out in the Rules.
A peace officer may, within fifteen (15) calendar days, appeal sustained findings of misconduct by the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) as outlined in Civil Service Rule XV. The written request for an appeal shall specify the allegation(s) sustained by CLERB which is (are) being appealed. If the peace officer files a timely appeal, the Commission appoints a hearing officer and a hearing will be scheduled. Unless the peace officer requests an open hearing, the hearing shall be closed to the public.
CLERB hearings are conducted similarly to disciplinary hearings. The burden of proof shall be on CLERB to demonstrate, through a preponderance of the evidence, that the incident or act, which was the basis for the complaint sustained by CLERB, occurred and did constitute improper conduct. Peace officers and CLERB representatives shall have the following rights: to subpoena witnesses and documents, to appear personally and be represented by counsel, to present testimony and documentary evidence, and to cross-examine witnesses. Please review Civil Service Rule XV for more detailed information.
Once the hearing is adjourned, the hearing officer will make recommendations to the Commission regarding the proposed decision. The Commission will deliberate together as to the appropriate decision in the matter and make a written and oral report of its decision at a public meeting.
If you are a peace officer filing an appeal or complaint with the Commission, you will be identified by a number on all agendas, minutes and reports and your hearing will be closed to the public, unless otherwise requested.
If you are an employee, former employee, or applicant filing an appeal or complaint, your name will be replaced with a number on Commission agendas and on minutes reporting Commission actions. Your hearing will be open to the public and the resulting report (and most associated documents) is considered a public record and will be released to the public upon request.
Reports of investigations done by the Office of Internal Affairs are considered confidential when there is a finding of no probable cause to believe that discrimination occurred. Reports of findings of probable cause will be released to the parties.
Reports of Commission’s findings are available at the Commission office within 48 hours of the meeting in which an item is reported.