Civil Rights Complaints

In addition to the right to a state hearing, an applicant or recipient can file a discrimination complaint with the county welfare department, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  County welfare departments (CWD) cannot discriminate in administering programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, political affiliation, marital status, sex, age or disability.  [MPP § 21-109.1.]  USDA added sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under sex based on the United States Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County.  (ACL 23-98.)  CWDs must also ensure that programs and activities are readily accessible to persons with disabilities.  [MPP § 21-111.1.]  Counties must also provide interpretation and translation services to non-English speakers [MPP § 21-115 et. seq.; see People who do not speak English] and auxiliary aids and services to persons who are deaf or hearing impaired or have impaired speech, vision or manual skills.  [MPP § 21-115.4.]

Discrimination complaints must be received not later than 180 days from the date of the alleged discriminatory act unless that deadline is extended by CDSS or the USDA.  [MPP § 21-203.]  The county welfare department must complete its investigation of the complaint within 60 calendar days of receipt of the complaint.  [MPP § 21-203.24.]  The CWD must designate an employee to conduct investigations.  [MPP § 21-203.31.]  The CWD must interview the complaintant.  [MPP § 21-203.32.]  The CWD must also interview the employee alleged to have acted in a discriminatory manner [MPP § 21-203.33] and review documents and interview witnesses.  [MPP § 21-203.34.]  The investigator must then write an investigation report.  [MPP § 21-203.4]  The CWD must inform the complaintant in writing of the result of the investigation within 20 days of completing the investigation.  [MPP 21-203.24.]

The CWD response must provide a brief summary of the allegations and the reasons for the County’s determination. This is necessary to give the complaintant sufficient information to understand the basis for the decision, decide whether to appeal to CDSS and to present meaningful argument on appeal.  The County summary letter must contain: 1) a clear statement of the allegations, include the complaintant’s allegations of what happened, and on what basis discrimination is alleged; 2) The case specific facts that the county relied on to make its determination; and 3) the reasons for the County’s determination.  [ACL 18-111.]

The complaintant can appeal to CDSS within 30 calendar days of the date on which the county provides the complaintant with the decision.  [MPP § 21-203.261.]  The complaintant can also appeal to the United States Department of Agriculture within 30 calendar days of the date on which the county provides the complaintant with the decision.  [MPP § 21-203.262.]