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January 28, 1971
Honorable Bruce A. Wilson
State Senator, Second District
Olympia, Washington 98501
Cite as: AGLO 1971 No. 14 (not official)
We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated January 26, 1971, requesting our advice as to the legal significance of previous periods of municipal civil service employment with respect to the status of an individual within the civil service system for deputy sheriffs in a particular county.
While most employees of the state are covered by a single comprehensive civil service system, as codified in chapter 41.06 RCW, the only statutory state‑wide [[statewide]]civil service systems for municipal employees are those provided for in chapter 41.08 RCW (Municipal Firemen); chapter 41.12 RCW (City Police); and chapter 41.14 RCW (Deputy Sheriffs). In addition, it is our understanding that in certain cities, as well as in King county, civil service systems for general city or county employees have been established by ordinance or charter provision.
From the information attached to your letter, it appears that the individual whose case has given rise to your question is currently employed as a deputy sheriff in Okanogan county. In addition, he has had certain previous intermittent periods of employment with Okanogan county, as well as an earlier period of employment with the city of Snohomish and another period of employment in the Snohomish county sheriff's office. The question raised pertains to the significance of these previous periods of employment outside of Okanogan county, in terms of the individual's present civil service status with the Okanogan county sheriff's office.
As we read the provisions of chapter 41.14 RCW, each county or combination of counties in which a civil service commission has been created pursuant to RCW 41.14.030 is to be regarded as having its own separate civil service system for those employees of its sheriff's office in the classified service (as defined by RCW 41.14.070). There [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] are no provisions in this chapter (just as there are none in either chapter 41.08 RCW or chapter 41.12 RCW) for any sort of "transferability" of status from one civil service system to another.
Under RCW 41.14.060, each civil service commission is to
". . . make suitable rules and regulations not inconsistent with the provisions hereof. Such rules and regulations shall provide in detail the manner in which examinations may be held, and appointments, promotions, transfers, reinstatements, demotions, suspensions, and discharges shall be made, and may also provide for any other matters connected with the general subject of personnel administration, and which may be considered desirable to further carry out the general purposes of this chapter, or which may be found to be in the interest of good personnel administration. . . ."
In addition, this statute further requires each county civil service commission
"(2) To give practical tests which shall consist only of subjects which will fairly determine the capacity of persons examined to perform duties of the position to which appointment is to be made. . . ."
It is entirely possible, of course, that a particular county civil service commission might include within its rules and regulations some provisions designed to give significance (within the context of initial appointment, promotion, or discharge) to previous periods of employment in similar law enforcement work. However, in the absence of any such regulatory provision promulgated by the commission, it would be our opinion that under the present statutes, there is no basis for regarding various periods of employment service under the coverage of any of the various separate civil service systems as being accumulative upon transfer of employment from coverage under one such system to another.
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
It is hoped that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General