Stewart petitioned for judicial review of an administrative
decision that she is ineligible for unemployment benefits.
Her petition is not subject to the procedural statutes in the
Employment Security Act (ESA), Title 50 RCW, which apply only
to administrative review. Instead, her petition for
judicial review is governed by the procedural
statutes in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), chapter
34.05 RCW. And pursuant to the APA, Stewart did not timely
serve her petition on the Employment Security Department
(ESD). She therefore failed to invoke the superior
court's appellate jurisdiction as prescribed by law, and
the court correctly recognized that it was required to
dismiss this case. We affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
suffers from migraine headaches and takes prescription
medication to help manage her symptoms. Her former employer
fired Stewart after she "came to work impaired due to
prescription narcotics for the second time in a six-month
period." Admin. R. at 189. Stewart's application for
unemployment benefits was initially granted, but her former
employer appealed, and an administrative law judge reversed.
Stewart petitioned for review by the ESD commissioner, who
affirmed that Stewart was ineligible for unemployment
then petitioned for judicial review of the commissioner's
decision in superior court. She attempted to serve ESD by
sending a copy of her petition by mail, but ESD did not
receive it until 31 days after the commissioner's
decision. Many months after appearing in the superior court
proceeding, ESD moved to dismiss, contending that
Stewart's service on ESD was untimely pursuant to RCW
34.05.542 and WAC 192-04-210. The trial court granted the
motion, concluding that Stewart's service on ESD was
completed 1 day too late and that dismissal was mandatory.
Stewart sought direct review by this court, which we granted.
Stewart timely serve her petition for judicial review on ESD?
not, was Stewart's petition subject to mandatory
the 1930s, our legislature has maintained an unemployment
compensation program "to prevent [the] spread and to
lighten [the] burden" of "economic insecurity due
to unemployment." RCW 50.01.010. The ESA provides
substantive rules about which unemployed workers are eligible
for benefits and the amount of benefits to be paid. It also
includes specific procedural statutes for administering
Washington's unemployment compensation program.
other things, these procedural statutes require multiple
levels of administrative review of initial benefits decisions
before the parties are permitted to seek judicial review of
those decisions in superior court. Briefly, ESD, as the
executive branch's designated administrative agency,
makes the initial determination about eligibility and
benefits. RCW 50.08.010. Then the claimant or employer may
seek administrative review by an "appeal tribunal"
(an appointed administrative law judge). RCW 50.32.010, .040.
If any party disagrees with the decision of the
administrative law judge, he or she may seek further
administrative review by the ESD commissioner. RCW
50.32.070-.080. Only after the commissioner issues a decision
may the parties seek judicial review. RCW 50.32.090, .120.
case, Stewart petitioned for judicial review of the ESD
commissioner's decision in superior court, and she mailed
a copy of her petition to ESD. We must decide whether this
mailing constituted timely service on ESD and, if not,
whether the superior court properly dismissed this case.
Stewart's petition was not timely served on ESD
explained below, Stewart timely served her petition for
review on ESD if, and only if, the ESA's procedural
statutes apply in this context. Thus, the narrow, statutory
question presented is whether the ESA's procedural rules
apply when a party seeks judicial review of a
commissioner's decision about a claimant's
eligibility for unemployment benefits. We hold that they do
not and, therefore, that Stewart did not timely serve her
petition on ESD.
to the APA, in order to timely perfect her appeal, Stewart
was required to serve her petition on ESD "within thirty
days after the agency action." RCW 34.05.542(3). The APA
explicitly provides that "[s]ervice of the petition on
the agency shall be by delivery.'' RCW
34.05.542(4) (emphasis added). "Delivery" for these
purposes "shall be deemed to have been made when a copy
of the petition for judicial review has been
received by the Commissioner's
Office."WAC 192-04-210 (emphasis added). It is
undisputed that Stewart's petition was not actually
received by ESD until 1 day after the 30-day deadline
expired. Therefore, in accordance with the APA, service was
Stewart did put a copy of her petition addressed to ESD in
the mail within the 30-day time limit, and the ESA's
procedural statutes provide that a mailed petition is deemed
"received" on the date it is postmarked. RCW
50.32.025(1). Therefore, service would be timely if the
ESA's procedural statutes applied in this context.
Whether they do is a question of statutory interpretation
subject to de novo review. Dep't of Ecology v.
Campbell & Gwinn, LLC, 146 Wn.2d 1, 9, 43 P.3d
to the plain meaning of the relevant statutes, the ESA does
not apply. Moreover, the legislative history shows that the
statutes' plain meaning accurately reflects the
legislature's intent. We therefore hold that the APA
applies and RCW 50.32.025 does not, so Stewart did not timely
serve her petition on ESD.
statutes' plain meaning requires us to apply the APA
Stewart correctly points out, the isolated language of RCW
50.32.025 could suggest that it applies here because that
statute provides in general terms that it applies to a
"petition from a . . . commissioner's
decision." But we must consider the meaning of this
language "from all that the Legislature has said in the
statute and related statutes which disclose legislative
intent about the provision in question." Campbell
& Gwinn, 146 Wn.2d at 11. In this case, related
statutes make it clear that RCW 50.32.025 applies only to
petitions for administrative review of a
commissioner's decision. Petitions for judicial
review are governed solely by the APA.
specifically provides that "[a]ny decision of the
commissioner involving a review of an appeal tribunal
decision, in the absence of a petition therefrom as
provided in chapter 34.05 RCW, becomes final thirty days
after service." RCW 50.32.090 (emphasis added). It
further provides that "[j]udicial review of a decision
of the commissioner involving the review of an appeals
tribunal decision may be had only in accordance with the
procedural requirements of RCW34.05.570" RCW
50.32.120 (emphasis added). Where these more specific
statutes apply, they must be given effect over RCW
50.32.025's general provisions. Residents Opposed to
Kittitas Turbines v. State Energy Facility Site Evaluation
Council, 165 Wn.2d 275, 309, 197 P.3d 1153 (2008). And
according to the plain meaning of these specific statutes,
the APA governs the procedure for judicial
review. This is entirely consistent with the
legislature's pronouncement that the APA
"establishes the exclusive means of judicial review of
agency action." RCW 34.05.510.
case, Stewart indisputably sought "[j]udicial review of
a decision of the commissioner involving the review of an
appeals tribunal decision." RCW 50.32.120. Therefore,
the specific provisions of RCW 50.32.090 and .120 apply. And
according to the plain meaning of those statutes,
"[j]udicial review of a final administrative decision of
the Commissioner of the Employment Security Department is
governed by the Washington ...