Civil Service Commission (CSC)

What We Believe

The Civil Service Commission embraces the City of Seattle's Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) and centers equitable treatment of employees. The CSC is actively working to embed racial equity in its processes and dismantling racist structures and practices over which it has control or influence. The CSC commits to the development of specific RSJ outcomes by January 2022.

The CSC also acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. 

The Civil Service Commission is committed to doing its work in a way that is transparent, accessible, equitable, and independent.

What We Do

The CSC conducts open, public hearings on employee appeals of disciplinary demotions, suspensions, and terminations. In a disciplinary appeal, the CSC (or a CSC Hearing Examiner) acts as a neutral body, hearing evidence and argument from both the employee and the decisionmaker/department. Disciplinary hearings are administrative in nature, so they are similar to a court proceeding, but less formal. After listening to the evidence and arguments, the CSC will deliberate and come to a decision whether the decisionmaker had "just cause" for their decision. Parties to a disciplinary appeal hearing may represent themselves or have another person represent them. They may hire an attorney, but do not need to do so.

The CSC may modify or reverse a disciplinary decision if it determines that a department acted in violation of the Personnel Rules or city policies. The CSC is also charged with investigating allegations of elected officials unduly influencing hiring decisions.

The CSC reviews rules, policies, programs, and legislation related to the City's personnel system makes recommendations to the Mayor and the City Council.

Who We Are

The Civil Service Commission was established in 1896 to oversee the Civil Service Department, which administered the City's personnel system, including the fire and police forces, laborers, inspectors, and clerical, electrical, and library workers. 

In 1979, the City's personnel system was reorganized with the creation of a Personnel Department independent of the Commission. The Commission was reorganized with jurisdiction to hear employee appeals relating to demotions, terminations, suspensions, certain lay-offs, and violations of personnel rules. Three members, serving staggered three-year terms, comprise the Commission. One member is appointed by the mayor, one by the City Council, and one is elected by City employees in the classified service. Commission staff includes an Executive Director and an Executive Assistant. 

The CSC meets regularly, and its meetings are open to the public. See the sidebar for more information about when and how to attend a CSC meeting.

Who We Serve

Most regular City employees are members of civil service and served by the Commission. Some classifications (positions) are exempt from Civil Service, including appointed positions, Assistant City Attorneys and positions in the Executive series. Specific exemptions are listed in SMC 4.13 Exemptions from Civil Service. Temporary employees, interns, and job training positions are also exempt from the civil service.


Click here to read more about how to file an appeal with the Civil Service Commission

Notice of Right to Appeal

The Commission hears appeals related to Personnel actions and decisions. This includes appeals related to discipline (Suspension-Demotion-Termination) and alleged violations of Personnel rules, laws and policies (Hiring and Employee Selection, Classification or Compensation, Employee Evaluation Process, Out-of-Class Work Assignments, Promotions, and complaints of Political Patronage.)

Before filing an Appeal, an employee must go through the Employee Grievance Procedure outlined in Personnel Rule 1.4 and SMC 4.04.240

Appeals to the Commission must be filed within twenty (20) calendar days of the Step 3 Grievance Response.

Detailed information on the Commission can be found in the  Civil Service Commission Rules of Practice and Procedure and in the Appeals Process located on this website or you may contact staff with your questions.


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