Civil Service Commission (CSC)

csc values

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 to dismantle racist structures and practices over which it has control or influence. The CSC has committed to developing 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 personnel actions, including disciplinary demotions, suspensions, and terminations. CSC (or a CSC Hearing Examiner) acts as a neutral body when it hears an appeal, and considers evidence and argument from both the employee and the decisionmaker/department. CSC hearings are administrative, so they are less formal than a court proceeding. After listening to the evidence and arguments, the CSC will deliberate and come to a decision whether the alleged violation occurred or not. Parties to an appeal may represent themselves or have another person represent them. They may hire an attorney, but do not need to do so.

The CSC has the power to modify or reverse a disciplinary decision if it determines that a department acted in violation of the Personnel Rules or city policies. 

The CSC investigates allegations of undue political influence in 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.

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 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.

In 2012 the Civil Service Commission and the Public Safety Civil Service Commission (PSCSC) reorganized to become one staff under the name The Civil Service Commissions (CIV).  Staff oversees the functions of both commissions, however, the rules and functions of each commission remain separate. PSCSC orders and oversees entry-level and promotional civil service exams for SPD and SFD employees, and provides sworn police and uniformed fire employees with a quasi-judicial hearing process for appeals concerning serious disciplinary actions, examination, and testing. PSCSC rules, exam information, and forms can be found on the PSCSC website at:


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.

Detailed information on how to file an appeal with the CSC 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 does not give legal advice. The information on this site is for informational purposes only.