Q&A for Personnel Resources Board Appeals

This document is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be binding on the State HR director or staff or on the Personnel Resources Board. This information is for unrepresented state employees; however, it may apply to represented employees as well. Represented employees are advised to contact their union representative to determine whether they have the right to file an appeal. For more information on the Board’s appeal process, refer to Chapter 357-52 WAC.

1. Appealable Actions

What actions can be appealed to the Personnel Resources Board?

A permanent employee may appeal the following directly to the Board:

  • disciplinary actions including dismissal, suspension, demotion or reduction in base salary;
  • nondisciplinary separations;
  • layoff actions or alleged layoff rule violations;
  • alleged rule violations;
  • exemption of his/her position. ​

See section on Full Appeal Hearings for more information on hearings for these types of appeals.

An employee or employer may appeal the following to the Board on exception to a director’s review determination:

  • allocations or reallocations;
  • remedial actions; or
  • removal of the employee’s id from a layoff list.

See section on Exception Appeal Hearings for more information on exception hearings.

What are some of the actions that cannot be appealed?

The following are a few of the actions that cannot be appealed:

  • letters of reprimand or counseling
  • probationary period separation
  • trial service reversion
  • voluntary demotion, transfer or resignation
  • content of a performance development plan or evaluation

Does the Board have jurisdiction for discrimination or harassment appeals:

No. Allegations of discrimination or harassment are within the jurisdiction of the Washington State Human Rights Commission. For information on the Human Rights Commission, see Chapter 49.60 RCW.

2. Filing an Appeal

Who can file appeals with the Board?

Employees may file appeals, including appeals on exception to a director’s determination. In addition, employers may file appeals on exception to a director’s review determination.

How do I file an appeal with the Board?

Appeals must be filed within 30 days of the action appealed. Appeals must be filed in accordance with Chapter 357-52 WAC and must include the information required by WAC 357-52-020.

Is there a form available for filing an appeal?

Yes. The form is available on-line at the Personnel Resources Board forms page. Or, you may contact the Human Resources Office at your place of employment or the State Human Resources Division within the Office of Financial Management for a printed copy of the form.

Am I required to use the Board’s appeal form?

No. But you are required to provide the information listed in WAC 357-52-020.

What happens after the Board receives my appeal?

Board staff reviews the appeal to assure that all the required information has been provided. If any information is missing, the basis for the appeal is not clear, or the appeal appears to be untimely, Board staff sends you a letter asking for additional information. If you don’t provide the information within the timeframe stated in the letter, your appeal may be dismissed.

3. Acknowledgement of an Appeal

What happens when all the required information is received?

Board staff sends a letter acknowledging receipt of the appeal.

Are there ways to resolve an appeal without a hearing?

Yes. For disciplinary appeals, you and the employer are asked to contact the Board if you wish to participate in mediation of the appeal. In addition, you may choose to have informal settlement discussions with your employer.

4. Mediation

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process used for settling an appeal. Mediation is conducted by a neutral third party called a mediator. The mediator helps you and the employer talk and reach an agreement to resolve the appeal.

Who determines whether an appeal will be assigned to one of the Board's mediators?

Both parties must first agree to participate in mediation and notify the Board. Then, Board staff considers additional factors such as location of the parties, time remaining before the hearing, cost of the mediation, and the type of appeal. When possible, the appeal is assigned to a mediator.

Is mediation available for all appeals?

Generally, exception appeals are not mediated.

How will I know if my case is assigned to a mediator?

Board staff sends you a letter assigning the case to a mediator. The mediator contacts the parties to schedule the mediation.

What role do the parties have during mediation?

In order for mediation to be successful, both parties must attend the mediation and act in good faith. This means that you will listen to what the other party has to say, you will keep an open mind and consider all offers made, and you won't stick to a fixed position. If you are not willing to consider alternative remedies to resolve your appeal, mediation will not be successful.

What role does the mediator have during the mediation?

The mediator helps you and the employer share information. The mediator may ask questions to clarify information or make suggestions, but the mediator will not tell either you or the employer what the settlement should be. The mediator will not decide who is right or wrong in any appeal.

Does mediation delay the hearing?

Mediation does not delay scheduling your appeal for a hearing. If your case is assigned to a mediator, your appeal is still scheduled for a hearing. If your appeal is settled, you will be expected to withdraw your appeal and the hearing will be canceled.

If the appeal is not settled, does the mediator share information about the mediation with the Board?

No. The only information the Board receives from the mediator is whether or not the case settled.

What happens when the parties don't agree to mediate an appeal?

The appeal is set for hearing.

5. Settlements and Withdrawals

What happens if I informally settle my appeal or decide I no longer wish to pursue it?

You must send the Board a letter or notice stating that you wish to withdraw your appeal. A Withdrawal Notice is available on the Personnel Resources Board forms page.

What happens when the appeal is settled through mediation?

The mediator tells the Board’s staff. However, the appeal will not be closed until you send notice to the Board withdrawing the appeal.

How is an appeal withdrawn?

You must send the Board a letter or notice stating that you wish to withdraw your appeal. A Withdrawal Notice is available on the Personnel Resources Board forms page.

Do I need to provide the Board with a copy of the settlement agreement?

No. The parties maintain copies of the agreement.

Will the Board enforce the settlement agreement?

No. The Board does not have jurisdiction to enforce or interpret settlement agreements

What happens when the appeal is not settled in mediation?

The mediator tells the Board’s staff and the appeal proceeds to hearing.

6. Notification of Hearing Date

How are hearings scheduled?

Board staff sends the parties a notice of a proposed hearing date. If you are unable to attend the hearing on that date, you must contact Board staff. When both parties agree to a hearing date, Board staff confirms the date by sending the parties a notice of hearing. The notice of hearing confirms the date, time and location of the hearing.

How long will it take for my hearing to be scheduled?

Within 30 days of the appeal being filed, Board staff contacts the parties with a proposed hearing date. For most cases, the hearing date is within 6 months of the case being filed. However, some cases may be scheduled farther out depending on the Board's case load and the availability of the parties. NOTE: The Board is a part-time board and typically schedules hearings on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

7. Continuances

Can I request a continuance of the hearing?

Yes. Either party can request that a hearing be continued or rescheduled to a later date. When making such a request, the party making the request must show that there is a good reason for the request.

How do I request a continuance?

First, you must contact the opposing party to determine whether they agree with the continuance. The parties should also agree to a date for the new hearing in consultation with the Board’s hearing coordinator. Next, you must file a written request with the Board.

What must be included in a request for continuance?

Your request must include the specific reason for the continuance, whether the opposing party agrees with the request, and the date the parties selected for the new hearing.

When must a request for continuance be filed?

Requests for continuance should be filed with the Board as soon as possible or at least two weeks before the hearing. The Board considers last minute requests for continuances only when the reason for the continuance is unforeseeable and emergent.

How will I know whether the Board grants the continuance?

Board staff calls the parties and tells them the Board’s decision. The Board also sends a written order confirming their decision. For more information on continuances, see WAC 357-52-115.

8. Prehearing Conference

What is a prehearing conference?

A prehearing conference is a conversation between the parties and a member of the Board’s staff to discuss procedural matters in preparation for a hearing. Prehearing conferences are usually held by telephone several months prior to the scheduled hearing. The date and time for the conference is included in the notice of hearing.

Who participates in the prehearing conference?

Both parties or their representatives participate in the call. Board staff initiates the call and facilitates the conversation.

What happens if I don’t participate in the call?

If neither you nor your representative participates in the call, your appeal may be dismissed.

What is discussed during the call?

During the call, discovery deadlines, the number and timing of witnesses, exhibits, a date for a follow-up conference call, and other matters are discussed. The matters discussed contribute to an orderly and concise hearing before the Board. For more information, see WAC 357-52-080 through 357-52-095.

Are the results of the prehearing conference documented?

Yes. Board staff sends the parties a document entitled “Statement of Results of Prehearing Conference”. This document contains the agreements made during the call.

9. Discovery Procedures

What is “discovery”?

Discovery is a formal process for asking the opposing party for information. Parties may engage in discovery consistent with the civil rules for superior courts of the state of Washington. However, you may wish to contact the opposing party and request the information prior to engaging in the formal discovery process. Usually, the parties can agree on the exchange of information through a less formal process.

10. Written Motions

What are motions?

Either party may file a motion when they want the Board to make a decision on an issue prior to a hearing. There are many different reasons for motions. For example, a party may file a motion asking the Board to:

  • limit the issues on appeal;
  • limit the scope of discovery or the number of witnesses;
  • require the opposing party to provide information;
  • require clarification of the issue(s) on appeal;
  • dismiss the appeal; or
  • decide the appeal as a matter of law.

For more information on motions, see Chapter 357-52 WAC.

11. Appeal Hearings

Are all Board hearings conducted in the same manner?

No. The Board conducts two types of hearings: full hearing and exception hearings. Full hearings are held for most disciplinary, layoff and rule violation appeals. Exception hearings are held for most appeals that have been reviewed by the director or designee or heard by a hearing examiner. More information on each type of hearing can be found in the two sections below titled, "Full Appeal Hearings" and "Exception Appeal Hearings."

11.1 Full Appeal Hearings

Will the Board staff contact the parties prior to the hearing?

Yes. As agreed to during the prehearing conference, approximately one week prior to the hearing, Board staff contacts the parties for a follow-up prehearing conference. This conference assures that there are no last minute issues or problems that will inhibit an orderly hearing.

What happens on the day of the hearing?

The parties are directed to arrive at the hearing one-half hour prior to the start of the hearing. During this time, they exchange and review exhibits, agree on the admission of exhibits, discuss any logistical matters, and resolve any other concerns that might prevent an orderly hearing. For more information about exhibits and witnesses, see WAC 357-52-235 through 357-52-250.

How should I prepare and mark my exhibits for the hearing?

You should plan to make seven copies of all the exhibits you will offer into evidence. During the follow-up prehearing conference, Board staff can confirm the number of copies you'll need to bring to the hearing.

Your exhibits should be compiled into complete sets and put in a three-ring binder or notebook. Each notebook or binder should include an index of the contents. And each exhibit should be tabbed and pre-numbered.

Each page of each exhibit should be marked with the exhibit number and the page number. The page numbers should be consecutive beginning with the first page of the first exhibit through the last page of the last exhibit.

What happens during the hearing?

The Board calls the hearing to order. Following introductions, the Board asks if there are any preliminary matters. This is when the parties should ask the Board to admit any stipulated facts or exhibits into the record.

When all the preliminary matters are dealt with, the Board asks the parties if they wish to make opening statements. Your opening statement should be a brief overview of your case and what you will be proving to the Board.

After opening statements, the parties present their cases to the Board starting with the party who has the burden of proof. Cases are presented through the testimony of witnesses.

If a witness talks about an exhibit that has not been entered into the record, whoever is questioning the witness should ask the Board to admit the exhibit. If an exhibit is not admitted into the record, it will not be considered by the Board.

After both parties have questioned all of their witnesses, the Board asks the parties if they wish to make closing statements. Your closing statement should be a brief summary of the evidence you presented and the facts you proved. After closing statements, the hearing is closed.

Can I object to information presented by the opposing party or by a witness?

Yes, but it is important to remember that the rules of evidence do not apply to hearings before the Board except for the rules of privilege recognized by law (for example, doctor-patient, attorney-client, husband-wife). If you do make an objection, you must tell the Board why you object. The Board listens to arguments by both parties and then rules on the objection. You should not object during open or closing statements.

11.2 Exception Appeal Hearings

What are exception appeals?

When the director reviews an allocation, reallocation, or remedial action, the director’s review is the initial step of the appeal process. After the director issues a decision, either party may file written exceptions to the Board if they disagree with something in the director’s decision.

When the Board assigns an appeal for hearing before a hearing officer, the hearing officer issues either a final or a recommended decision. When the hearing officer issues a recommended decision, either party may file written exceptions to the Board if they disagree with something in the hearing officer’s decision.

What should I include in my exception appeal?

Written exceptions should include the specific areas of the director’s or hearing officer’s decision with which you disagree. You should include why you disagree and you should reference the exhibits that support your position.

How are exception appeals decided?

Exception appeals are decided based on the record created during the director’s review or by the hearing officer and

  • written arguments submitted by both parties; or
  • oral arguments presented to the Board.

Generally, no new testimony or witnesses are allowed during exception hearings.

How will I know how my exception appeal will be decided?

Board staff sends the parties either a cutoff schedule for written arguments or a proposed hearing date for oral argument. If a proposed hearing date is offered, once the date is agreed upon by the parties, Board staff sends a hearing notice confirming the date, time and location of the hearing.

May I file additional information for the Board’s consideration?

Exception appeals are based on the record created during the director’s review or by the hearing officer. Usually, the Board does not accept additional information. However, if both parties agree that the information should be considered, they may ask the Board to accept it and the Board may grant the request.

What happens during an exception hearing?

The Board calls the hearing to order. Following introductions, the Board explains the process for the hearing.

Each party is given approximately 20 minutes to present argument to the Board. In addition, the Board may ask questions at any time during the hearing. If the Board asks questions, this time is not deducted from your 20 minutes.

You may wish to reserve a part of your 20 minutes for closing argument.

The party that filed the exception appeal has the burden of proof. This party will present their arguments first. Then the opposing party presents their arguments.

After each side has finished presenting their arguments, the Board will allow you an opportunity to take a 5 to 10 minute break before presenting a closing statement. This break is optional and if you don't feel the need for it, tell the Board that you are ready to present your closing without a break.

Your closing statement should be a brief summary of the evidence you presented and the facts you proved. After closing statements, the hearing is closed.

May I ask the Board for a full hearing rather than a hearing on exception?

Yes, this would be called a de novo hearing. A de novo hearing is a new hearing as if the prior review and decision had not occurred. Either party may petition the Board and show good cause for conducting the hearing on a de novo basis.

What is good cause for granting a de novo hearing?

The Board determines good cause on a case-by-case basis. Some examples of a good cause might be that the director's designee's or hearing officer's process was procedurally flawed, that he/she misinterpreted the evidence or exhibits you provided, or that his/her decision was contrary to the laws or rules.

What is the timeline for requesting a de novo hearing?

The Board's rules do not specify a timeline for such a request. However, it would be best if you include the request when filing your exception appeal. That way, if the Board does not grant your request for the de novo hearing, the matter can proceed on your exceptions.

12. Post-hearing actions

What happens after the hearing?

The Board reviews the evidence, deliberates the case and prepares a written order. The Board signs the written order and issues it to the parties and their representatives.

How are Board orders issued?

Board orders are issued by mail.

How long does it take for the Board to issue the order?

Most orders are issued within 30 days after the close of the hearing.

What can I do if I disagree with the Board order?

Orders of the Board are final and are not subject to appeal.

Can I ask the Board to reconsider their decision?
Yes. WACs 357-52-221 through 357-52-224 address motions for reconsideration. A motion for reconsideration must be filed within 14 calendar days of the date on the Board's order and must be based on at least one of the following:

  • errors of procedure
  • misinterpretation of fact or law
  • irregularity in the hearing that prevented you from having a fair hearing.
  • clerical mistakes in the final decision and order.
 

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