Civil Rights and Complaints
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Civil Rights and Complaints


Revised March 25, 2011



Purpose: This section describes civil rights rules and how to file a complaint.

WAC 388-426-0005How do I make a complaint to the department?

This includes:

  • Your civil rights when you do business with us;
  • Who to contact with a civil rights complaint; 
  • How to tell us if you do not agree with an action we took or a decision we made;
  • How we respond to civil rights complaints; and
  • Annual staff training requirements for civil rights.

WAC 388-426-0005

WAC 388-426-0005

Effective June 1, 2006

WAC 388-426-0005 How do I make a complaint to the department?

If you do not agree with a decision we made or an action we took, you can make a complaint. We address your concerns based on the nature of your complaint.  

Civil Rights:

  1. We will not discriminate based on your race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion, or political beliefs. This agrees with:

    1. Federal law and policy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that ban discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability; and

    2. The Food Stamp Act and USDA policy, which also bans discrimination on religion or political beliefs.

  2. To file a complaint that we discriminated based on your race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion, or political beliefs contact USDA or HHS:

    Write:
    USDA
    Director, Office of Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410
    HHS
    Director, Office for Civil Rights
    Room 506-F
    200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20201
    Or call:
    USDA
    (800) 795-3272 (voice); or
    (202) 720-6382 (TTY).
    HHS
    (202) 619-0403 (voice); or
    (202) 619-3257 (TTY).
    USDA and HHS are equal opportunity providers and employers.

Complaints about our decisions or actions:

  1. If you do not agree with a decision we made or an action we took, you may use our complaint process:

    1. Supervisor review: You may give a supervisor a written complaint. We will:

      1. Make a decision about your written complaint within ten days of the date we get it; and

      2. Send you a letter telling you what we decided and that you may have another review by the local office administrator if you ask for it.

    2. Administrator review: If you do not accept the decision you get from a supervisor, you may give the local office administrator a written complaint. We will:

      1. Make a decision about your written complaint within ten days of the date we get it; and

      2. Send you a letter telling you what we decided.

  2. When we send you a letter with the administrator's decision, this ends the complaint process.

  3. If you file a written complaint, you may still ask for a fair hearing under chapter 388-02 WAC.

  4. You may always speak with your worker's supervisor or have them review your worker's decision even if you do not file a formal complaint.

This is a reprint of the official rule as published by the Office of the Code Reviser. If there are previous versions of this rule, they can be found using the Legislative Search page.

CLARIFYING INFORMATION

  1. Department policy on equal opportunity and access:

    Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is committed to equal employment opportunity and access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, sex, religion, creed, age, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, disabled and Vietnam era veteran's status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.

  2. Discrimination complaints filed with the department:

    The Investigations and Reasonable Accommodation Unit (IRAU) investigates complaints we receive on discrimination. Someone may file a complaint with the IRAU using one of the toll free numbers below or by completing one of the two complaint forms listed below and sending the complaint to IRAU.

    Investigations and Reasonable Accommodation Unit (IRAU)
    1115 S. Washington, OB2 2nd Floor NE Wing
    PO Box 45839
    Olympia, WA 98504-5839

    Toll Free 1-800-521-8060
    (inside Washington)
    Toll Free TDD 1-800-521-8061
    (inside Washington)

  3. Hearings / Judicial review:

    If we receive a complaint that a future hearing or judicial review covers, we can tell the person that the hearing or review will resolve the issue.

  4. Necessary Supplemental Accommodation (NSA):

    See NSA  if we get a complaint from someone:

    1. Who gets NSA services; or

    2. Does not agree with our decision about their NSA status or accommodation plan.

  5. Managed care:

    See WAC 388-538-0110  for complaints related to Managed Care contractors


WORKER RESPONSIBILITIES

1.     Explain why we made the decision:

If someone doesn't like a decision we made or action we took, explain why we took the action and the rules we used to make the decision.

2.     Tell people about their options:

If someone disagrees with a decision, tell them the options they have to review our decision, including:

a.      How to make a complaint;

b.      Their right to talk to a supervisor;

c.      Their option to call customer relations at 1-800-865-7801; and

d.      Their right to ask for a fair hearing.

3.     Verbal complaints of discrimination:

If someone verbally complains that they were discriminated, ask them to write down the complaint. If they cannot or will not write down the complaint, write down the details of the complaint for them.

4.     When someone wants to make a complaint:

a.      Help them write down their complaint as needed;

b.      Give them the number for customer relations if they ask for it; and

c.      Get the complaint to the person who supervises the client's worker right away.

5.     Civil rights complaints:

a.      Tell the person that they can file a discrimination complaint about the Food Stamp Program directly with the US Department of Agriculture - Food and Nutrition Service. Help the person with the complaint as needed and give them the address to mail the complaint.

b.      If the person is applying for or gets food assistance, give them DSHS 22-252 - Nondiscrimination in the Food Stamp Program.

c.      If the client is applying for or gets benefits from other programs, give them DSHS 22-171(X) - Discrimination brochure / complaint form.

d.      Help the person write down their complaint as needed;

e.      Get the complaint to the person who supervises the client's worker right away.

f.        Give them the number for customer relations if they ask for it.

6.     Discrimination complaints log:

Every local office must keep a discrimination complaints log. The log must record the following information: The log must contain the

a.      Date of complaint;

b.      Name, address, telephone number, and client ID of the person making the complaint;

c.      The specific location and name of the agency that authorizes the benefits;

d.      Type of complaint (race, color, sex, political beliefs, etc.);

e.      The names, titles, and business addresses of people who may know about the action or decision in the complaint;

f.        How we addressed the complaint and the date we did this; and

g.      A copy of the written response to the complaint.

7.     Mandatory Civil Rights Training:

Every year, all local office staff must complete the online civil rights training using the DSHS Learning Center.  This must be completed by local office staff and supervisors by the end of February.   

Completion of this training is monitored, and staff will receive a reminder if the training has not been completed timely. 

Modification Date: March 25, 2011