Appeals Process

Filing Appeals with the Civil Service Commission

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact in-person operations and commission staff are teleworking at this time.

We are temporarily unable to accept appeal filings in-person or through the office mail slot at Seattle Municipal Tower. Notices of Appeal are always accepted by email. Direct your Notice of Appeal, questions, or other communication to  Commission staff, at andrea.scheele@seattle.gov or teresa.jacobs@seattle.gov.

A Notice of Appeal requires a valid signature (electronic signatures are accepted.) If you are unable to electronically sign your appeal, email an otherwise completed .pdf Notice of Appeal within 20 days of the Step 3 Grievance response (more info below), and mail a signed hard copy via US postal service to:

Civil Service Commission, attn: Notice of Appeal

700 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1670

PO Box 94729

Seattle, WA 98124-4729

*The date of receipt is the date the pdf Notice of Appeal form is emailed to commission staff.


Forms and Informational Links

Commission forms and informational links are located on the CSC Forms and Information page. 


Civil Service Appeals Process FAQ 

What should employees know before filing an appeal with the Civil Service Commission (CSC)?

The Civil Service Commission conducts appeal hearings for employees in the civil service who believe that a Personnel Rule has been violated, or want to contest certain types of disciplinary decisions by their department. 

Who can file a disciplinary or Personnel Rules violation appeal with the Civil Service Commission?

  • Regularly appointed City employees in the classified service who have been notified of a department's decision of suspension, demotion, or termination of their employment.
    • Discipline less severe than a suspension (verbal or written reprimand) cannot be appealed to the CSC.
  • A regular employee who is aggrieved by a violation of the Personnel Ordinance (SMC 4.04) or rules passed pursuant thereto, provided that the employee first exhausts the intradepartmental grievance remedies under section 4.04.240 and the Personnel Rules.
  • Some personnel actions taken by a department are not appealable to the CSC, such as ones that are discretionary (optional) under the Personnel Rules. Contact CSC staff if you have questions about what kinds of personnel actions may be appealed to Commission.

What are the steps for appealing a Personnel Rule violation, suspension, demotion or termination to the CSC?

  • Understanding your rights and obligations
    • Understand your civil service and/or union status, and associated rights.
      • If you're in a union, consult your collective bargaining agreement and consider reaching out to your shop steward or union rep. 
      • If you're in the civil service, review applicable rules and policies:
        • Personnel Rule 1.3 describes the City's progressive discipline process, which applies to employees in the civil service.
        • Personnel Rule 1.4 describes the Employee Grievance Process, and process for grieving disciplinary decisions and appealing a disciplinary decision to the CSC.
      • CSC Rules of Practice and Procedure describe how the Civil Service Commission operates, including public meetings, definitions, appeal hearings, and to request review of a decision by the CSC or the Executive Director.
  • Determine membership in the civil service. If uncertain, employees may ask their department's HR contact, or email Executive Assistant Teresa Jacobs at teresa.jacobs@seattle.gov to verify civil service status. 
  • Many City employees are member of a union and the civil service. Those employees have the option of pursuing their union's grievance process or the City of Seattle's internal grievance procedure/Civil Service Commission's appeal process. Employees may not pursue both the union grievance path and the employee grievance process/CSC path, they must pick one.
  • Generally, when the discipline is suspension, demotion, or termination, the grievance may be filed at Step 3.
  • There are important timelines related to employee grievance process, and failure to act within those timelines can result in a grievance or an appeal being dismissed. After an employee is notified of their department's appointing authority's decision to suspend, demote, or terminate their employment, the employee has twenty (20) calendar days from the date the disciplinary decision issues to file a grievance with the Department Director of Seattle Human Resources. A grievance filed on the twenty-first (21st) day after the notification is late and may not be accepted. See Personnel Rule 1.4 for more info.
  • The employee grievance procedure is complete when the employing department sends a letter called the "Step 3 letter," or "Step 3 response."
  • The Step 3 response starts the clock running on the twenty (20) days the aggrieved employee has to file their "Notice of Appeal" with the CSC.
  • A Notice of Appeal filed on the twenty-first (21st) day after the Step 3 response may not be deemed timely, so filing in a timely manner is crucial. 
  • More information about the employee grievance procedure and deadlines for filing a Notice of Appeal with the CSC is available at Personnel Rule 1.4.

More about the employee grievance procedure and civil service appeals process:

  • These processes are set forth by law.
  • Seattle Municipal Code 4.04.260.A states that, "[a] regular employee who is aggrieved thereby may appeal to the Civil Service Commission his/her demotion, suspension, termination of employment, or violation of this chapter or rules passed pursuant thereto, provided that the employee first exhausts the intradepartmental grievance remedies under section 4.04.260 and the Personnel Rules.
  • The grievance procedure serves a purpose. The employee grievance process gives the Director of Seattle Human Resources an opportunity to hear from aggrieved members of the civil service, and review serious disciplinary decisions to ensure that decision-makers understood followed the Personnel Rules. It also provides an opportunity for the parties to resolve the grievance before an appeal is filed with the CSC, and proceeds to a full hearing.
  • Failure to complete the grievance process and/or file a timely Notice of Appeal with the CSC will result denial/dismissal of the appeal by the Civil Service Commission.

The CSC is not permitted to give legal advice. The information on this web site is for informational purposes only.