Chapter 3.40


3.40.010    Personnel Board.

3.40.020    Role of Personnel Board.

3.40.025    Procedural Rules.

3.40.030    Appeals.

3.40.040    Cause for Suspension, Demotion, Reduction, Withholding of Salary Step or Dismissal.

3.40.050    Written Notice of Disciplinary Action.

3.40.060    Withdrawal or Amendment of Disciplinary Action.

3.40.065    Withdrawal of Appeal.

3.40.070    Hearing.

3.40.080    Rights of Parties on Appeals.

3.40.090    Notice of Hearing.

3.40.100    Report of Hearing.

3.40.110    Witness Oath.

3.40.120    Expenses for Witnesses.

3.40.010 Personnel Board.

There shall be a Personnel Board, consisting of five resident and qualified voters, three to be appointed from the County at large by the Executive, ratified by the Council, and two to be elected by the Career Service employees of the County in a manner of their choosing. (Pierce County Charter, Section 7.40) (Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 82-56 § 2 (part), 1982: prior code § 6.20.010)

3.40.020 Role of Personnel Board.

The role of the Personnel Board is:

A.    To submit a written report at least once a year to the County Executive and County Council concerning the operation of the personnel system with any recommendations for its improvement.

B.    To conduct hearings on appeal(s) by any member of the Career Service from any action pertaining to the methods of examination, appointment or promotion; from any suspension for more than 20 working days, disciplinary demotion, or dismissal for cause; provided further, employees serving in positions covered by a union agreement shall be subject to the terms and grievance provisions of their contract for their appeals. The Personnel Board shall hold a hearing to consider the appeal and shall issue such orders as it deems proper including but not limited to reversal of the action, with or without the loss of benefits and pay. The employee shall have the right to request a closed hearing. The decision of the Personnel Board on an appeal shall be final and binding unless reviewed by a court of competent jurisdiction by action of a party in interest including the Appointing Authority.

C.    To conduct grievance hearings, under the provisions of Chapter 3.48, filed by any member of the Career Service relating to the interpretation of specific rights, or benefits conferred by any provision of the Administrative Guidelines for the Career Service.

(Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 98-123 § 1 (part), 1998; Ord. 82-56 § 2 (part), 1982; prior Code § 6.20.020)

3.40.025 Procedural Rules.

The Personnel Board is authorized to adopt standing rules of procedure that are consistent with the Administrative Guidelines for the Career Service and any applicable law. (Ord. 2011-28 § 1 (part), 2011)

3.40.030 Appeals.

In the case of an appeal by a Career Service employee to the Personnel Board, written notice of appeal shall be filed by the employee directed to the Human Resources Director within five working days of an employee having been notified of the disciplinary action. For appeals not involving disciplinary action, the applicable period shall be ten working days from the action from which the appeal is taken, or ten working days from the time the employee should have reasonably known of the action, whichever is longer. The written notice of appeal by the employee shall contain a statement of the following:

A.    The action or alleged action from which the appeal is taken;

B.    The grounds for appeal; and

C.    The relief requested.

The Personnel Board may only hear appeals which are within its jurisdiction as defined in this Chapter.

(Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2004-7s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 82-56 § 2 (part), 1982; prior Code § 6.20.030)

3.40.040 Cause for Suspension, Demotion, Reduction, Withholding of Salary Step or Dismissal.

A.    An employee with regular status in the Career Service may be demoted, suspended, reduced in salary step, have an automatic salary step withheld, or dismissed for cause. The following are declared to be causes for such action, although charges may be based upon causes other than those listed herein:

1.    Failure to meet reasonable work performance standards and requirements;

2.    Discourteous treatment of the public or other employees;

3.    Willful or negligent disobedience of any law, ordinance, County rule, departmental policy or regulation, or a superior's lawful order;

4.    Misappropriation, theft, damage of public property, or waste of public funds or property through negligent or willful misconduct;

5.    Conduct unbecoming of an employee of the County;

6.    Absence without approved leave;

7.    Excessive tardiness or unauthorized absenteeism;

8.    Deception or fraud in securing of a job appointment or promotion;

9.    Failure to supply full information as required in the employment process, which if known prior to the time of the appointment, might have resulted in disqualification of the employee for the position to which appointment was made;

10.    Falsification of a relevant official statement or document;

11.    Physical or mental incapacity to perform essential job functions;

12.    Failure to cooperate with the implementation and application of the Equal Employment Opportunity Policy;

13.    Possessing or using narcotics, illegal drugs, or alcohol in County offices or being at work under the effects of same, or otherwise violating the Drug Free Workplace Policy;

14.    Insubordination;

15.    Making threats or exhibiting threatening behavior, committing acts of intimidation or violence toward another employee, visitors or other users of County services, or otherwise violating the Workplace Safety and Violence Prevention Policy or Domestic Violence in the Workplace Policy;

16.    Misuse of medical or personal health information;

17.    Failure to cooperate in responding to public records requests.

B.    Nothing in this Section shall derogate from the County's authority to abolish positions and/or lay off employees because of reductions in force and/or reorganization.

C.    Salaried employees exempt from the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act may be suspended for less than one week in response to major safety violations. All other suspensions of such salaried employees shall only be made in weekly increments.

(Ord. 2019-11 § 1 (part), 2019; Ord. 2011-28 § 1 (part), 2011; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 98-123 § 1 (part), 1998; Ord. 92-163 § 1 (part), 1993; Ord. 82-56 § 2 (part), 1982; prior Code § 6.20.040)

3.40.050 Written Notice of Disciplinary Action.

In any disciplinary action against a Career Service employee, other than verbal reprimand (oral warning), pertinent information shall be reduced to written form by the Appointing Authority. A copy shall be filed with the Human Resources Director and a copy shall be delivered personally to the Career Service employee or mailed to the employee's last known address by certified mail, return receipt requested. The employee shall be deemed notified of the disciplinary action upon personal notification, or five days after mailing of such notification. Notice of the disciplinary action shall state the following:

A.    The cause for discipline;

B.    The reasons and/or facts supporting the cause;

C.    The form of discipline to be imposed;

D.    The effective date of the discipline (if applicable);

E.    The right of the Career Service employee to appeal to the Personnel Board within five working days of notification of the action, a disciplinary action resulting in:

1.    a suspension of more than 20 working days,

2.    demotion, or

3.    dismissal.

F.    The right of the Career Service employee to grieve any other disciplinary action to the appropriate authorities through the initiation of the grievance procedure, set forth in Chapter 3.48 or through the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement, if provided.

(Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2004-7s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 92-163 § 1 (part), 1993; Ord. 82-56 § 2 (part), 1982; prior Code § 6.20.050)

3.40.060 Withdrawal or Amendment of Disciplinary Action.

After filing of the written notice of disciplinary action, it may be withdrawn by the Appointing Authority at any time prior to the final decision of the Personnel Board. An amended notice may be filed by the Appointing Authority at any time prior to the commencement of the hearing before the Personnel Board. If an amended notice of disciplinary action presents new causes for discipline, the employee shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to prepare the defense thereto and must file an amended answer within ten working days of the receipt of the amended notice. (Ord. 82-56 § 2 (part), 1982; prior Code § 6.20.060)

3.40.065 Withdrawal of Appeal.

The Personnel Board may deem an appeal withdrawn in the event the appellant fails to timely comply with a Personnel Board rule pertaining to deadlines, hearings, or disclosure of witnesses or exhibits. (Ord. 2011-28 § 1 (part), 2011)

3.40.070 Hearing.

A.    If the appellant's appeal is timely filed and in conformance with Section 3.40.030, the Personnel Board or Chairperson shall fix the time and date of hearing the appeal. The time and date may be changed by the Personnel Board, or Chairperson, upon stipulation of the parties for continuance or for good cause. The parties are defined as the appellant employee and the Appointing Authority.

B.    The appellant employee or a representative of such employee and the Appointing Authority or representative of the Appointing Authority shall attend the hearing. Failure of the employee or employee's representative to appear at the time and place set for hearing shall be deemed a withdrawal of the employee's appeal, unless otherwise excused by the Personnel Board.

(Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 92-163 § 1 (part), 1993; Ord. 82-56 § 2 (part), 1982; prior Code § 6.20.070)

3.40.080 Rights of Parties on Appeals.

Each party shall have the right to:

A.    Choose a representative;

B.    Testify under oath;

C.    Make a request to the Personnel Board to have specific witnesses and/or documents subpoenaed, subject to the rules of evidence and privilege. If approved, each party shall then be responsible for issuance of its own subpoenas;

D.    Question witnesses;

E.    Present evidence;

F.    Argue a case.

(Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 82-56 § 2 (part), 1982; prior Code § 6.20.080)

3.40.090 Notice of Hearing.

At least ten calendar days prior to hearing, the Personnel Board shall mail notice of the time and place of hearing to the parties. Notice to counsel or the party's representative of record shall constitute notice to the party. (Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 82-56 § 2 (part), 1982; prior Code § 6.20.090)

3.40.100 Report of Hearing.

A.    Hearings before the Personnel Board shall be electronically recorded. Either party to the hearing shall have the right to supply a court reporter on its initiative and shall provide for the payment of the same. Costs for transcripts and/or recordings shall be borne by the party requesting the transcript.

B.    The names and addresses of all witnesses and exhibits shall be made part of the record. The Personnel Board shall have the power to exclude witnesses not under examination and to admonish witnesses to refrain from discussing the subject of their testimony with other witnesses or potential witnesses. The parties and their representatives shall be permitted to remain in the hearing room at all times prior to submission of the matter for decision, even though they may be called upon to testify as witnesses.

(Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 82-56 § 2 (part), 1982; prior Code § 6.20.100)

3.40.110 Witness Oath.

The Personnel Board shall require all witnesses to testify under oath or affirmation. The oath shall read as follows:

Do you solemnly swear (or affirm) that the testimony you are about to give in this matter shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

(Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 82-56 § 2 (part), 1982; prior Code § 6.20.110)

3.40.120 Expenses for Witnesses.

The expenses of witnesses and case presentation, including attorney fees, for either side shall be borne by the parties respectively. (Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 82-56 § 2 (part), 1982; prior Code § 6.20.120)