VETERAN'S PREFERENCE IN CIVIL SERVICE EMPLOYMENT
1. Statutory veteran's preference shall be applied on a combined total of mental examination and credits earned for physical fitness, where such credits are authorized under the civil service rules of a municipality, upon an examination for a permanent position.
2. Statutory veteran's preference shall be applied only to the mental examination upon the first promotional examination of a veteran although credits are authorized for previous efficiency records.
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January 19, 1951
Honorable E. B. Riley, Director
Veteran's Rehabilitation Council
Olympia, Washington Cite as: AGO 49-51 No. 432
You have requested an opinion from this office in regard to the following questions:
1. Where a veteran is employed in a probationary status and subsequently takes an examination for a permanent position in the civil service of a municipality, does his ten per cent preference under chapter 134, Laws of 1949 apply only on his mental examination, or on the combined total of mental examination and credits earned for physical fitness, where such credits are allowed under the civil service rules authorized by city charter?
2. Would the same conclusion follow under the preference provisions of chapter 134, Laws of 1949 on his first promotional examination, where the veteran has been employed in civil service prior to his entry into the armed forces and has returned to civil service employment.
Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:
1. The ten per cent preference shall apply on the combined total of mental examination and credits earned.
2. The veteran's preference, on the first promotional examination of a veteran who has returned to civil service employment after a period of service in the armed forces, shall apply only to the mental examination, although promotional credits are authorized for previous service and efficiency records.
Chapter 134, Laws of 1949 (1949 Rem. Supp. § 9963-5, amending section 1, chapter 189, Laws of 1945, as amended), provides as follows:
"In all competitive examinations, unless otherwise provided herein, to determine the qualifications of applicants for public offices, positions or employment, the State of Washington, and all of its political subdivisions and all municipal corporations, shall give a preference status to all veterans, as herein defined, of all wars in which the United States of America has been now is or may hereafter be engaged, by adding to the mark, grade or rating, based upon a possible rating of one hundred (100) points as perfect, ten per cent (10%) to his final earned test rating: PROVIDED, That he has received a minimum passing grade in such examination. The term 'veteran' as herein used, shall include every person who has served, now is serving, or may hereafter serve in any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States during any such war and, upon termination of the service, has received an honorable discharge, or a physical discharge with an honorable record, or has been relieved of active services under honorable circumstances. The provisions of this act shall not be applicable to promotional examinations to determine the qualifications of officers or employees for promotion from a lower grade position to a higher grade position: PROVIDED, That when such a veteran was employed in public service at the time of his entry into military service and returns to the same employment, he shall be entitled to the preference herein provided for on his first promotional examination."
The Charter of the City of Everett provides that its Civil Service Commission shall have power to make rules and regulations for the conduct of its business. Section IV of Civil Service Rules of the City of Everett provides for a mental and physical examination for applicants for employment in the city's civil service. Section IV provides, in part, as follows:
"If the applicant receives a grade of 70% or better in the mental examination, he shall be allowed added credits for the results achieved in the first examination. The total of the grade attained in the mental examination plus the added credits allowed for physical fitness shall constitute the applicant's final average."
The "first Examination" mentioned above, refers to the applicant's physical examination. Chapter 134, Laws of 1949, provides that in all "competitive" examinations, a preference shall be given to certain veterans by adding ten per cent to the mark, grade, or rating achieved in such examinations. The physical examination is no less competitive than the mental examination. Accordingly, we are of the opinion that where additional credits are allowed on the basis of physical fitness, the statutory preference should be applied to the combined total of mental examination and allowed credits. Where applicants for certain positions are required to pass only mental examinations, the preference can, of course, be applied only to such examinations. In either mental or physical examinations, the veteran must have received a minimum passing grade before he is eligible for the preference.
Section VII of the Civil Service Rules of the City of Everett provides for certain promotional examinations. No credit provision is given for physical fitness in such examinations, although certain credits are provided for efficiency rating and previous service. Under Section VII, promotion is made upon positive merit of the person promoted, as shown by his previous service and efficiency record, as well as upon merit by examination. The last provision of chapter 134, Laws of 1949, states that a returning veteran shall be entitled to the preference herein provided for on his first promotional examination. As stated above, that preference is an addition of ten per cent of the grade achieved in any competitive examination to his final earned test rating. We do not consider length of service or past efficiency records to be included within the term "competitive examinations." We are, therefore, of the opinion that the veteran's preference on the first Orig. Op. Page 4 promotional examination of a veteran who has returned to civil service employment after a period of service in the armed forces, shall apply only to the mental examination, although promotional credits are authorized for previous service and efficiency records.
Very truly yours,
LAWRENCE K. McDONELL
Assistant Attorney General