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Overview of the Civil Service Commission

This section describes the makeup and responsibilities of the Civil Service Commission

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The Civil Service Commission (CSC) is a quasi-judicial agency created under Section 41 of Chapter 7 of the Massachusetts General Laws. CSC has a five-member appellate board whose members are appointed by the Governor for five-year staggered terms.

According to its website, CSC’s mission is to adjudicate appeals of public employees and job applicants covered by Chapter 31 of the General Laws. CSC has four full-time employees and two part-time employees.

The issues that come before CSC are mostly factual disputes dealing with whether an appointing authority has just cause to discipline or lay off an employee or, in cases involving appointments and promotions, whether there was reasonable justification to bypass the employee or job applicant. CSC has the authority to conduct investigations regarding the civil service process and review changes to the Personnel Administration Rules proposed by the state’s Human Resources Division (HRD).

The appeal process typically involves an appellant and an appointing authority. Appellants can represent themselves or be represented by attorneys; the latter occurs 50% to 60% of the time. A notice of the pre-hearing conference is sent to the appellant and appointing authority, informing both parties of what documents they need to bring to the pre-hearing conference. The response time between the receipt of the appeal and the notice of a scheduled pre-hearing conference is approximately a week or less, according to data extracted from CSC’s case management system. Pre-hearing conferences are usually scheduled to be held within 30 days after the date the appeal was originally filed; full hearings, if necessary, are usually held within 90 days after the pre-hearing conference.

According to CSC’s website, CSC received, on average, approximately 219 appeals per year for calendar years 2014 through 2018 that ranged from a low of 171 appeals to a high of 265. Appeal hearings are held at the Civil Service Office in Boston, the Division of Administrative Law Appeals in Boston, the Springfield State Office Building in Springfield, the Armand P. Mercier Community Center in Lowell, and the University of Massachusetts School of Law in North Dartmouth.

CSC Case Management System

The Governor designates one commissioner of CSC as the chair, who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of CSC and the assignment of cases to be heard by individual commissioners. The appeals that CSC receives are entered in a database application called Time Matters Case Management System. The database application, which contains approximately 13,615 records, can track appeals and generate reports. The cases that come before CSC usually require a pre-hearing conference, and approximately 49% of appeals that are filed result in a full hearing. The remaining cases are settled, withdrawn, or dismissed for lack of prosecution or on procedural or jurisdictional grounds.

According to the CSC’s website, the agency handles the following types of appeal:

  1. Bypass (original appointment and promotional appointment): These are disputes brought forth by candidates for civil service positions who feel they have been bypassed for appointments to civil service positions, or by existing civil service employees who have been bypassed for promotion by someone ranked lower on the civil service list of available candidates.
  2. Examination (original appointment and promotional appointment): These cases involve civil service exam applicants who are challenging exam-related determinations by HRD.
  3. Non-Bypass Equity: Individuals who would like to contest the action or non-action taken by HRD may file this type of appeal.
  4. Classification: Any state employee who believes s/he has been improperly classified in his/her current position and has received a denial from HRD may file a classification appeal.
  5. Discipline/Layoff: These are appeals between state or municipal appointing authorities and their civil service employees concerning whether the employers had just cause to discipline, discharge, or lay off an employee. An employee with civil service protection may file this appeal if s/he believes s/he has been unfairly terminated, demoted, or laid off.
  6. Performance Evaluation: These cases involve state employees contesting the results of performance evaluations.
Date published: November 8, 2019