CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION
800 South Victoria Ave, RM 336
Ventura, CA 93009-1500
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION
What We Do
- Regular Meetings
- Hearing Schedule
- Disciplinary Hearings
- Involuntary Resignations
- Voluntary Terminations
- Appeals of Adverse Decisions and Procedures in Examinations and Promotions by Nomination
- Examination Appeals
- Denials of Promotion by Nomination
- Insufficient Petitions May Be Amended Once
- Bargaining Unit Determinations
- Unfair Practices and Other Violations of Personnel Rules Governing Employer/Employee Relations
- Discriminatory Practices
- Medical Examination Appeals
- Investigations and Hearings
- Personnel Rule Change Recommendations
REGULAR BUSINESS MEETINGS
The Civil Service Commission conducts regular meetings at 9:00 a.m. on the fourth Thursday of every month except November and December to consider appeal requests and to set hearing dates for those matters within its jurisdiction.
In November, the Commission meets at 9:00 a.m. on the third Thursday. In December, the Commission meets at 9:00 on the second Thursday.
Agendas for all regular business meetings are mailed by brown (internal) mail, e-mail, or regular mail, on the Friday preceding the meeting.
MEETING LOCATION: Hall of Administration, 800 South Victoria Avenue, Ventura, CA, Lower Plaza Assembly Room
All hearings before the Commission or a hearing panel are held during a week of a regularly scheduled business meeting.
Any person representing a party before the Commission is expected to be available to present the matter on the date(s) assigned for hearing. In the event that a party’s primary representative is unable to appear, he or she is responsible for having an authorized alternative representative or the party appear who is fully prepared to present the matter on the date(s) assigned.
(Limited to Ventura County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Ventura County Professional Firefighter’s Association, Criminal Justice Attorney’s Association, and Management Confidential Clerical & Other Unrepresented Employees; all other employee organizations subject to arbitration.)
Authority – Government Code section 31108; Ventura County Ordinance Code §§ 1345, subdivision (c) and 1352 et seq.; and Personnel Rules section 2101 et seq. and section 2303, subdivision (a).
A permanent employee, once disciplined, has the right to file with the Commission an appeal within 10 calendar days of receipt of the final notice of disciplinary action (Personnel Rules, §2103.) The causes for discipline cover a wide range of prescribed activities and conduct. (Ventura County Ordinance Code §1345-188.8.131.52; Personnel Rules, § 2105.) A permanent employee may appeal either the causes for discipline or the severity of the discipline or both. Note: A probationary employee has no disciplinary appeal rights to the Commission. (Ventura County Ordinance Code, § 1345-1.4.11; Personnel Rules, §2104.)
Prior to the receipt of final notice of disciplinary action, an employee will be given a notice of proposed disciplinary action. This notice, commonly called a “Skelly letter”, is to provide the employee with written details of the cause(s) for the disciplinary action and an opportunity to be heard on the proposed discipline. The fact that the employee does not receive a proper “Skelly letter” does not invalidate the discipline, but may affect the matter of back pay. (Personnel Rules, § 2102, subds. (a) through (c); Skelly v. State Personnel Bd. (1975) 15 Cal.3d 194, 215; Barber v. State Personnel Bd. (1976) 18 Cal.3d 395.)
Commission’s Decision If the Commission finds that none of the charges contained in the written notice are true, it shall set aside the action taken by the appointing authority. If the Commission finds that some or all of the charges are true, it shall make and enter its decision confirming or modifying the action of the appointing authority. The Commission cannot impose a more severe disciplinary action than that imposed by the appointing authority. A disciplinary reduction in salary shall be a decrease of either 2 ½ or 5% for up to 13 pay periods. A suspension without pay cannot exceed 30 calendar days. A demotion adjusts salary downward to the range of the demoted position and, if the range permits, by not more than approximately 5% (Ventura County Ordinance Code, §§ 1352-20 and 1352-21; Personnel Rules, §§ 2318, 2108 – 2110.) The decision is final and binding. (Personnel Rules, § 2311, subd. (a); Ventura County Ordinance Code, § 1352-12.) In addition, the Commission may make recommendations as necessitated by the hearing. (Ventura County Ordinance Code, § 1345, subds. (a) and (b).)
Authority – Ventura County Ordinance Code § 1352-2.1; Personnel Rules and Regulations § 2209.
A permanent employee may petition the Commission for a hearing regarding an allegedly involuntary resignation. The petition shall include specific facts regarding the resignation alleged to be involuntary and coerced by improper action of the appointing authority. It shall be filed with the Commission within ten (10) days following notice to petitioner of the acceptance of the resignation by the appointing authority. The petitioner shall have the burden of proving that the resignation was involuntary.
Commission’s Decision – Following a hearing, should the Commission find that the resignation was involuntary and coerced by improper conduct of the appointing authority, the Commission shall issue its decision stating the reasons for such finding.
Thereafter, the appointing authority shall have ten (10) days following notice of the decision of the Commission to serve the petitioner with a written order dismissing, demoting, suspending, or demoting and suspending the petitioner. (See Ventura County Ordinance Code § 1352-1.) Should no order in writing be served upon the petitioner, he shall be reinstated to his former position with back pay to the effective date of the resignation.
Authority – Personnel Rules and Regulation s § 2203; Ventura County Ordinance Code § 1352-2.1.
An employee who is absent from work without authorized leave (“AWOL”) for three (3) days or two consecutive 24-hour work shifts may be deemed by the appointing authority to have voluntarily terminated. The appointing authority makes a report in writing on the regular termination form stating the reasons for such resignation and forwards it to the County’s Human Resources Director.
Under case law and prior decisions of the Commission, the deeming of a voluntary termination has been confined to those situations where the absence without leave was admitted or where the employer reasonably believed an abandonment had occurred. (See, e.g., Zike v. State Personnel Bd. (1983) 145 Cal.App.3d 817, 824; Curia v. Civil Service Com. (1981) 126 Cal.App.3d 994, 1009.) In 1991, the Zike and Curia cases were disapproved to the extent they applied to voluntary absence cases the full set of due-process protections required in disciplinary dismissals , in the case of Coleman v. Department of Personnel Administration (1991) 52 Cal.3d 1102, 1122-1123 & fn. 8. In Coleman, the California Supreme Court held that an employee terminated due to an unauthorized voluntary absence does not have a due process right to a post-severance evidentiary hearing. However, the Coleman Court also held that an employee dismissed pursuant to an AWOL provision is entitled to pre-termination notice and an opportunity to present contrary facts to a neutral decision maker to guard against abuses of such AWOL provisions and to “protect against factually unwarranted” AWOL terminations by appointing authorities. (Id. at p. 1123.)
Pursuant to Section 2203 of the Personnel Rules and Regulations, employees may appeal voluntary terminations to the Commission in conformance with Personnel Rules and Regulations Section 2209 (dealing with involuntary resignations). Section 2209 provides that such petitions shall be filed with the Commission within ten (10) days following notice of the appointing authority’s acceptance of the employee’s termination. The appointing authority’s notice must indicate the action taken and the employee’s right to petition the Commission within ten (10) calendar days. If a terminated employee files a petition within ten (10) calendar days of receiving the appointing authority’s notice, the employee has conformed to the provisions of Section 2209. If insufficient notice is given, the petition can be filed within a reasonable time.
The express provisions of Personnel Rules and Regulations Section 2310 place the burden of proof on the petitioner in all hearings other than disciplinary ones. While the Commission agrees that the petitioner bears the burden of proof as to all facts excusing termination based on an alleged absence without authorization, the burden of proof initially rests with the appointing authority to show that the absence was in fact without authorization. (See Curia v. Civil Service Com. (1981) 126 Cal.App.3d 994, 1009, disapproved on other grounds in Coleman, supra.)
Commission’s Decision – Following a hearing, the Commission determines whether the appointing authority properly exercised its discretion in deeming the employee’s absence a voluntary termination or abandonment of employment. The Commission issues its decision in a written finding of facts, conclusions, and order(s). In addition, the Commission may thereafter make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors as necessitated by the hearing. (See Ventura County Ordinance Code section 1345, subdivisions (a) and (b).)
APPEALS OF ADVERSE DECISIONS AND PROCEDURES IN EXAMINATIONS AND PROMOTIONS BY NOMINATION
Authority – See generally Personnel Rules, § 501 et seq., and §§ 2303 and 2311.
Examination appeals may be filed by applicants (including, but not limited to, current employees) who are adversely affected by the conduct or results of oral or written examinations. An aggrieved applicant must first appeal to the Human Resources Director (“Director”). The first appeal must be filed within twelve (12) calendar days after notice of the examination’s results has been provided to the applicant. The appeal must be in writing and must provide the Director with the facts, information, or other circumstances upon which the appeal is made. (See Personnel Rules, § 523.)
The grounds for appeal are (a) the lack of appropriateness or correctness of any item or items in the written examination; or (b) any discrimination, fraud, favoritism, or other non-merit based factors in the oral examination interview. (Personnel Rules, § 524.) The Director is required to meet with the applicant within seven (7) calendar days after receipt of the appeal to discuss the matter. The Director must give the applicant a written decision within ten (10) days after such meeting. (Personnel Rules, § 525.) (Different rules may apply to represented employees based on the terms of the applicable memorandum of understanding or agreement.)
- Examination appeals to the Civil Service Commission must be filed within seven days of the Director’s decision on the first appeal.
Under Personnel Rules Section 523, the Director is authorized to redress any fraud, favoritism, failure to follow proper examination procedure, or discrimination, by suspending, canceling, discontinuing, or invalidating an examination procedure, provided there is proper cause and reasonable notice. If an applicant is not satisfied with the written decision by the Director, he or she may file a petition with the Civil Service Commission. This petition must be filed within seven (7) calendar days after the applicant receives the Director’s decision. (Personnel Rules, § 525.)
Denials of Promotion by Nomination
The Commission may hear an appeal from an employee competing for a promotion by nomination if the competing employee files a petition within seven (7) calendar days of denial of the promotion by the Hiring Authority. (Personnel Rules, § 511.)
- Appeals of denials of promotion by nomination are made directly to the Civil Service Commission and must be filed within seven days of the Hiring Authority’s denial of the promotion.
Commission’s Decision – Section 2303.B. of the Personnel Rules provides that, in examination appeals and matters involving allegations of discrimination (see Personnel Rules, § 221), the Commission may, in its discretion, grant a hearing.
INSUFFICIENT PETITIONS MAY BE AMENDED ONCE
The Commission shall deny a request for a hearing if the petition fails to state sufficient specific facts and reasons, or if in the opinion of the Commission the specific facts and reasons stated, if true, would not entitle the petitioner to any relief. If the Commission initially denies a hearing on the petition, the Commission may only consider an amended petition if it is filed within fourteen (14) calendar days of the date of rejection of the original petition. No more than one amended petition may be filed for any appeal.
- Note: An amended petition must be filed within fourteen (14) calendar days of the date of rejection of the original, insufficient petition.
Relief Available for Meritorious Petitions
In granting relief on any meritorious petition, the Commission has the same powers as those granted to the Director in the first instance. Specifically, the Commission may order the Director to “suspend, cancel, discontinue and/or invalidate any examination process, [or] part thereof to avoid, correct, or redress” the specific errors or irregularities set forth in Section 523 (as discussed, above). The Commission’s decision is final and binding, subject to judicial review. (Personnel Rules, § 2311, subd. A.)
BARGAINING UNIT DETERMINATIONS
Authority – Personnel Rules, Article 20; see generally Personnel Rules, §§ 2003, 2008-2012; see also Personnel Rules, § 2311.
The applicable rules for bargaining units are set forth in Article 20 of the Personnel Rules (Section 2001 et seq.). The Commission has the authority to hear protests regarding unit determinations, unless an applicable memoranda of understanding or agreement requires arbitration or another procedure.
Protest petitions come before the Commission for resolution of one or more of four disputes related to employee organizations and bargaining units: (a) certification; (b) decertification; (c) modification; or (d) creation of new classes within units.
- Certification (official recognition by the County of an employee organization as the organization designated to represent an appropriate bargaining unit) – An employee organization can only file a petition for certification between September 15 and November 1 of any given year. (Personnel Rules, § 2010.) The petition must be submitted to the Director of Human Resources and must be accompanied by evidence of approval of the proposed employee organization by at least 30 percent of the employees in the proposed unit. (Personnel Rules, § 2009, subd. G.) The Director has 30 days to establish a bargaining unit (or units), based on the criteria set forth in Personnel Rules Section 2008; provided that the Director has verified that a majority of employees in any proposed unit (or units) has designated such organization to represent them. (Personnel Rules, § 2009, subd. I.) After the Director determines the unit or units based on Section 2008 and certifies that decision to the petitioning employee organization, the petitioning employee organization, or any other employee organization, can protest the Director’s determination by filing a request for review with the Commission within ten (10) days of the Director’s certification. The Director may also request such a review. (Personnel Rules, § 2009, subd. J.)Commission’s Decision – The Commission may sustain, modify, or reverse the unit determination of the Director, after which it conducts an election and certifies the results; or, in appropriate cases, the Commission may refer the matter back to the Director for further action. (Personnel Rules, § 2009, subd. K.) A certified unit may not be protested, modified, or decertified for at least one year thereafter. (Personnel Rules, § 2009, subd. L.) The Commission’s decision is final and binding. (Personnel Rules, § 2311, subd. A.)
- Decertification (removal of recognition from an employee organization as the organization designated to represent a certain bargaining unit) – After expiration of at least one year from any prior certification, decertification, or modification, employees within any recognized bargaining unit (or appropriate subdivision thereof) may petition for decertification of the recognized employee organization for their unit (or subdivision thereof). As with certifications, the petition may only be filed between September 15 and November 1 of any given year. (Personnel Rules, § 2010.) If a multi-year memorandum of agreement exists, decertification can only occur during the second and subsequent years of the agreement. (Personnel Rule, § 2011-A.) The petition shall be submitted to the Director of Human Resources and must be accompanied by evidence that at least 30 percent of the employees in the unit request decertification.The petition may include a request for certification of a different recognized organization for the petitioning employees (Personnel Rules, § 2011.) The petition also may, but need not, request recognition of a new employee organization. If the requested organization has not been previously certified, the information required for certification of the new organization must accompany the petition. The Director investigates and, thereafter, refers the petition, with any recommendations, to the Commission for hearing and determination. (Personnel Rules, § 2011, subd. B.)Commission’s Decision – If the proposed employee unit is an existing unit, that is, a previously certified unit, or if the Commission otherwise finds that the proposed unit is an appropriate one for the petitioning employees, the Commission calls for an election. (The proposed employee unit is appropriate if it satisfies the criteria set forth in Personnel Rules Section 2008 and can stand alone.) The ballot must include an option to vote for “No Representation.” The employee organization elected by majority vote immediately becomes the employees’ bargaining unit and is governed by any existing Memorandum of Understanding for the remainder of that agreement’s term. If “No Representation” gets majority support, the affected employees are without representation, but their employment remains governed by the terms of any existing Memorandum of Understanding for the remainder of its term. (Personnel Rules, § 2011, subd. B.) The Commission’s decision is final and binding. (Personnel Rules, § 2311, subd. A.)
- Modification (a change of bargaining unit not involving a change in the recognized employee organization for that unit) – Generally, employees of an appropriate employee unit may petition for modification of their bargaining unit by filing a petition with the Director of Human Resources. The procedure is the same as for unit decertification, discussed above. Thus, employees may not file a modification petition until after at least one year from certification of their current unit, and then only between September 15 and November 1 of any given year. Moreover, the proposed unit must be an appropriate one, able to meet all conditions to stand alone as a bargaining unit. (See Personnel Rules, § 2012, subds. A and B.) The petition must be accompanied by evidence of approval of the requested modification by at least 30 percent of the employees in the unit to be modified. The Director investigates and, thereafter, refers the petition, with any recommendation, to the Commission for hearing and determination.Commission’s Decision – The Commission determines whether the proposed employee unit is appropriate based on the criteria set forth in Personnel Rules Section 2008 and, if so, calls for an election. (Personnel Rules, §§ 2012, subds. A and B.) The Commission’s decision is final and binding. (Personnel Rules, § 2311, subd. A.)
- Creation of New Classes – New classes of employees may be created by the Board of Supervisors at their discretion. The Director of Human Resources places those classes in appropriate bargaining units. The Director then notifies the Commission and any affected employee organization of his decision. Any affected employee organization can file a protest with the Commission within ten (10) calendar days of the Director’s notification requesting the Commission’s review of the Director’s decision. (See Personnel Rules, § 2012, subd. C.)Commission’s Decision – The Commission reviews any protest of the Director’s unit determinations by independently applying the criteria set forth in Personnel Rules Section 2008 (which lists the factors to be considered for all unit certifications). The Commission’s decision is final and binding. (Personnel Rules, §§ 2012, subd. C, and 2311, subd. A.)
UNFAIR PRACTICES AND OTHER VIOLATIONS OF PERSONNEL RULES GOVERNING EMPLOYER/EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
Authority – Personnel Rules, §§ 2001, et seq.; 2014-2015; and 2311, subd. A.
- Unfair Practices – Employee organizations and employees may file with the Director of Human Resources written charges of unfair practice against the County for (1) interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of rights recognized or granted them in Article 20 of the Personnel Rules; (2) refusing to meet and confer with a recognized bargaining unit in regard to matters within the scope of representation set forth in Personnel Rules, Section 2006, subdivision A; or (3) failing or refusing to cooperate with the Commission or any mediators or fact finders selected under the terms of the Personnel Rules. The County may also file a charge of unfair practice against a recognized employee organization if it fails or refuses to cooperate with the Commission or any mediators or fact finders. If requested by a charging party, the Commission investigates and conducts a hearing on such charges, after which, the Commission files a report and recommendation with the Board of Supervisors. (Personnel Rules, § 2015.)
- Other Violations of Article 20 – Additionally, the County, an employee organization, or individual employees may file charges for violations of any other provision of Article 20 of the Personnel Rules, or any applicable rule or regulation issued thereunder, by filing such charge in writing with the Director of Human Resources. As with charges of unfair practices, the charging party may request review by the Commission. (Personnel Rules, §§ 2014-2015.) Upon request, the Commission conducts an investigation to determine whether a party has violated Article 20 or any rule or regulation issued thereunder. The Commission reports its findings to the Board of Supervisors. (Personnel Rules, § 2015.)Commission’s Decision – The Ventura County Civil Service Ordinance and the Personnel Rules do not specify any other options for the Commission in connection with these matters. However, the past practice of the Commission has included ordering a party to cease and desist from an unfair practice or other violation of Article 20. The Commission may order affirmative relief in appropriate cases. The Commission’s decision is final and binding. (Personnel Rule, § 2311, subd. A.) (Note: Certain bargaining unit members’ claims for unfair labor practices may be subject to arbitration under the terms of their Memoranda of Understanding or Agreement.)
Authority – Personnel Rules § 221, 308, 405, 503; 2303, subdivision (b); and 2310.
Section 221 of the County’s Personnel Rules and Regulations defines “discrimination” as follows:
“Any act, practice, or course of conduct which is not job related and which constitutes or results in inequality of treatment of any person or group of persons because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, [or] functional limitation as defined in applicable State and Federal law.”
Sections 308, 405, and 503 of the Rules prohibit any such discrimination in the County’s recruitment activities, processing of applications, and administration of examinations and tests. Similarly, Section 2107 prohibits discrimination in disciplinary actions.
The Commission has discretion to conduct hearings on allegations of discrimination. While this jurisdiction is quite broad, there is one specific limitation. The Commission has no jurisdiction to hear any allegations by probationary employees if only in relation to matters of discipline pursuant to Ventura County Ordinance Code section 1345-1.4.11 and Personnel Rules section 2104. (Personnel Rules, § 2303, subd. B.)
Following receipt of a request for hearing, the Commission may grant a hearing if the petition states specific facts and reasons that, if true, would entitle the petitioner to relief. The Commission shall deny a request for a hearing if the petition fails to state sufficient specific facts and reasons, or in the opinion of the Commission the specific facts and reasons stated, if true, would not entitle the petitioner to any relief. If the Commission rejects a petition as insufficient, a petitioner may file an amended petition, which must be filed no later than fourteen (14) calendar days after rejection of the original petition. (Personnel Rules, § 2303, subd. B.) No more than one amended petition may be filed for the same allegation of discrimination. Petitioners bear the initial burden of proof with regard to all allegations of discrimination. (Personnel Rules, § 2310.)
Commission’s Decision – The Commission has the implied power to order a party to cease and desist from any discriminatory practice in appropriate cases. Similarly, the Commission’s jurisdiction arguably includes the implied power to order affirmative relief in appropriate cases. The Commission’s decision is final and binding. (Personnel Rules, § 2311, subd. A.)
Employee grievances are currently not within the jurisdiction of the Commission. Management and confidential clerical employees are subject to decision of the County Executive Officer; all other employee organizations are subject to arbitration. (See generally Ventura County Ordinance Code, § 1345-3.)
MEDICAL EXAMINATION APPEALS
Authority – Personnel Rules, § 601 et seq.; including § 609, subd. C.
The County routinely requires applicants for potential employment to undergo physical and emotional fitness examinations. The Director of Human Resources has the power to disqualify or remove an applicant from an eligible for hiring list based on a conclusion by the Director of Employee Health Services that the applicant fails to meet the prescribed standards for the position. An applicant, or an eligible who has been removed from the eligible list, may appeal this determination to the Commission within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of the notice of removal. The appellant bears the costs of appeal.
Commission’s Decision – The Commission’s authority in medical examination appeals is not explicitly set forth in the Civil Service Ordinance or the Personnel Rules. However, in order to give any effect to an applicant’s or eligible’s right to appeal, the Commission has the implied power to grant relief by ordering an applicant or eligible placed back on an eligible list if such appellant establishes that removal from the eligible list was unwarranted, i.e., that the applicant did in fact meet the prescribed standards for the position.
INVESTIGATIONS AND HEARINGS
Authority – Ventura County Ordinance Code §§ 1345, subds. (a) and (b), and 1345-1.3.
As it deems appropriate, the Commission shall conduct investigations concerning the administration of the County’s Civil Service System and make advisory recommendations to the Board in connection therewith. A formal request for investigation and recommendation can be made by the Board of Supervisors, the County Executive Officer (CEO), or any recognized employee organization; or the Commission can undertake an investigation on its own initiative. The Commission may conduct hearings in connection with its investigations, or at the request of the Board of Supervisors or the CEO. Upon receipt, requests for hearings are placed on the Commission’s next regular meeting agenda, at which time the Commission sets the hearing for a regular or special meeting.
Commission’s Decision – After completing its investigation, the Commission may make an advisory recommendation to the Board of Supervisors within fifteen (15) working days of the close of the hearing. (Ventura County Ordinance Code, § 1345-1.3.)
PERSONNEL RULE CHANGE RECOMMENDATIONS
Authority – Personnel Rules, § 2703.
The Civil Service Commission can consider and recommend to the Board of Supervisors changes to the County’s Personnel Rules that are related to the subject matter of the Civil Service Ordinance (Ventura County Ordinance Code section 1341 et seq.). Proposed amendments can originate with the Board of Supervisors, the County Executive Officer (CEO), or the Commission itself. Commissioners may propose suggested changes to the Rules at any meeting; however, the Commission cannot take final action on any recommendation for a change to the Rules until after it holds a public hearing. That hearing can be held no earlier than two weeks after any suggested amendment first comes before the Commission. If the Board or CEO proposes a suggested change, the Commission is required to provide (within a week of receiving the request) formal notice of a meeting during which it will conduct a hearing on the proposal. The Commission must set the date for this hearing no sooner than two (2) weeks and no later than five (5) weeks after the Commission receives the proposal. The Commission must provide its recommendation to the Board within seven (7) weeks of its receipt of the proposal.
Whether a particular rule amendment is subject to the meet-and-confer provisions of the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (Gov. Code, § 3500 et seq.) will not be addressed or resolved by the Commission. Apart from this amendment process, the County of Ventura and any recognized employee organization can enter into memoranda of understanding or agreement that can have a direct effect on the Personnel Rules and the jurisdiction of the Commission.
Commission’s Decision – Following a hearing, the Commission makes recommendations, if any, to the Board of Supervisors for its consideration. (See also Ventura County Ordinance Code, § 1345-1.3.) Any proposed amendment only becomes effective after final adoption by the Board of Supervisors. (Personnel Rules, § 2703.)
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