FAQs for Clients/Recipients

The purpose of this section is to provide answers to frequently asked questions concerning civil rights issues. In addition to providing answers, it is intended to direct people to the right place/phone number and/or web site link for additional resources.


Questions

  1. What is discrimination?
  2. What is a discrimination complaint?
  3. If I think that the county unfairly reduced or stopped my benefits, what can I do?
  4. Which are the protected bases of discrimination referred to by the Department of Social Services?
  5. Can you provide me with legal representation?
  6. Can you be my advocate?
  7. What if I feel I'm discriminated against by a State employee or a State contractor?
  8. What if I feel I'm discriminated against by a county employee or a county contractor?
  9. What's the benefit to me in filing a discrimination complaint?
  10. Why don't you investigate Medi-Cal problems since my county welfare department does Medi-Cal?
  11. I don't have my Medi-Cal card yet. Who can I call?
  12. Why do you have a county person investigating a county problem? How can they be fair to the client?
  13. I don't think my benefit amount is right because my caseworker is discriminating against me or biased. Can you make sure my amount was calculated fairly?
  14. The County is discriminating against me and took my kids away from me. Can't you make them give my kids back?
  15. If you find out that the worker did discriminate against me, what actions will be taken against the worker?
  16. Can I get financial compensation if it's found that I've been discriminated against?
  17. My caseworker is rude to me. Is this discrimination?
  18. I'm always having problems with my caseworker. Can I get a different worker?
  19. I'm afraid to complain because I may be treated worse by my worker. What can I do?
  20. I complained about how the county worker treated me, and now they treat me even worse. What can I do?
  21. My benefits aren't on my EBT card yet. Who can I talk to about this issue?
  22. I feel discriminated against by my landlord. Who can help me with this complaint?
  23. The County says they overpaid me for my benefits and that I owe them. Who can I talk to about this problem?
  24. I want to report welfare fraud. How can I do this?
  25. I have experienced discrimination during a court proceeding. Who can I complain to about this issue?
  26. Who can I talk to about my civil rights as it relates to child support issues?

Answers

1. What is discrimination?

Answer:
Discrimination is when a county welfare department takes a negative action against you (like denying your benefits, or making you wait in the lobby longer than other people) because of your race, color, national origin, age, religion, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, domestic partnership, or ethnic group identification.

2. What is a discrimination complaint?

Answer:
If you think that you have been discriminated against, you have the right to report the incident to someone who can investigate the incident to see if an act of discrimination occurred. The report can be verbal or written and is referred to as a discrimination complaint.

3. If I think that the county unfairly reduced or stopped my benefits, what can I do?

Answer:
You can request a State hearing. This means you present your case before a State Administrative Law Judge who will determine whether or not the county took appropriate action. For more information on this process, visit the State Hearings website.

4. Which are the protected bases of discrimination referred to by the Department of Social Services?

Answer:
Race, color, national origin, age, religion, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disability, and political affiliation are all groups that are protected by state laws.

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5. Can you provide me with legal representation?

Answer:
No. The Civil Rights Bureau does not give legal advice or provide legal representation in any process or proceeding. You must find legal representation elsewhere.

6. Can you be my advocate?

Answer:
No. The Civil Rights Bureau is not a client advocate group. You may find legal advocates in your area by looking in the phone book, on the internet, or researching at a local library.

7. What if I feel I'm discriminated against by a State employee or a State contractor?

Answer:
If you think California Department of Social Services staff has discriminated against you, you have the right to file a discrimination complaint by contacting the Civil Rights Bureau website .

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will also take discrimination complaints with a basis of race, color, national origin, age, or disability. You can contact HHS:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Office for Civil Rights
50 United Nations Plaza, Room 322
San Francisco, CA 94102
1-800-368-1019

8. What if I feel I'm discriminated against by a county employee or a county contractor?

Answer:
File a discrimination complaint with the local Civil Rights Coordinator in your county. You may also file with the Civil Rights Bureau website .

If your complaint involves the Food Stamp program, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office for Civil Rights will also take complaints with a basis of race, color, national origin, political affiliation, religion, sex, age, or disability. You may contact USDA at:

USDA, Director
Office for Civil Rights
Room 326-W, Whitten Building
14th and Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-9410
1-800-795-3272 (voice)
(202) 720-6382 (TTY)

If your complaint involves other benefits or social services programs, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will take complaints with a basis of race, color, national origin, age, or disability. You can contact HHS at:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Office for Civil Rights
50 United Nations Plaza, Room 322
San Francisco, CA 94102
1-800-368-1019

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9. What's the benefit to me in filing a discrimination complaint?

Answer:
Speaking with the local Civil Rights Coordinator may result in a satisfactory resolution to the problems you are experiencing. However, the return of your benefits or services is not promised, and child custody or placement orders cannot be overturned because of a discrimination complaint investigation.

10. Why don't you investigate Medi-Cal problems since my county welfare department does Medi-Cal?

Answer:
The California Department of Health Services (DHS) is the state department that gives counties the money to administer the Medi-Cal program. You can still file your Medi-Cal discrimination complaint with your local Civil Rights Coordinator, or you can contact the DHS Civil Rights Bureau at 916-440-7370.

11. I don't have my Medi-Cal card yet. Who can I call?

Answer:
You need to contact your county worker immediately. If you can't speak with your worker, ask to speak to your worker's supervisor or a program manager. Also, check your county's website or the informational materials in your application or recertification packet for a county complaint hotline.

12. Why do you have a county person investigating a county problem? How can they be fair to the client?

Answer:
Civil rights regulations say that the person who investigates complaints must be outside of the program, and must be neutral and objective fact-finders. The Civil Rights Bureau checks the work assignment of each Civil Rights Coordinator to make sure that person is not directly connected to the program named in the complaint.

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13. I don't think my benefit amount is right because my caseworker is discriminating against me or biased. Can you make sure my amount was calculated fairly?

Answer:
You should request a state hearing to protest the change in your benefits by calling 1-800-952-5253. At the same time, you can file a separate discrimination complaint with the Civil Rights Coordinator or the Civil Rights Bureau website .

14. The County is discriminating against me and took my kids away from me. Can't you make them give my kids back?

Answer:
No. Discrimination complaint investigations do not have any influence on the decisions made by judges or the courts.

15. If you find out that the worker did discriminate against me, what actions will be taken against the worker?

Answer:
Immediate and appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that the worker understands that their actions were discriminatory and not acceptable. Corrective actions may apply not only to the worker, but perhaps also to the entire district office.

16. Can I get financial compensation if it's found that I've been discriminated against?

Answer:
No, not through the discrimination complaint process. You are free to pursue the issue through civil court proceedings on your own.

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17. My caseworker is rude to me. Is this discrimination?

Answer:
Report any rude or discourteous treatment to the caseworker's supervisor. If you believe the rude treatment is because of your race, color, national origin, age, religion, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disability, or political affiliation, speak with your local Civil Rights Coordinator as soon as possible to file a discrimination complaint. You may also contact the Civil Rights Bureau website to file a discrimination complaint.

18. I'm always having problems with my caseworker. Can I get a different worker?

Answer:
You will need to speak with the worker or the worker's supervisor to request a change in caseworkers.

19. I'm afraid to complain because I may be treated worse by my worker. What can I do?

Answer:
Retaliation for filing a complaint is a violation of civil rights regulations, and is strictly prohibited. If you feel uncomfortable with filing a complaint with your worker or district office, you can file your discrimination complaint with the Civil Rights Bureau website .

You may also file your complaint anonymously. If you choose to do this, please remember that investigative staff can't contact you for additional information, or tell you about the findings. An anonymous complaint should contain as much detail as possible; if the complaint is vague or unclear, it could slow or even stop the investigation.

20. I complained about how the county worker treated me, and now they treat me even worse. What can I do?

Answer:
If you believe that you are being retaliated against for filing a complaint, immediately contact your local Civil Rights Coordinator . You don't even have to talk to the worker to get the name. A poster called, "Everyone is Different, But Equal Under the Law" is posted on the wall in the lobby. You will find the Civil Rights Coordinator's name and contact information on that poster. You can also contact the Civil Rights Bureau website.

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21. My benefits aren't on my EBT card yet. Who can I talk to about this issue?

Answer:
Call the EBT Customer Service line at 1-877-328-9677 to check on your benefits. Additional questions should be directed to your worker or your worker's supervisor.

22. I feel discriminated against by my landlord. Who can help me with this complaint?

Answer:
The CDSS Civil Rights Bureau has no authority over landlords or housing issues. You will need to speak with the management company over your landlord. You may also file a discrimination complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing toll-free at 1-800-233-3212 (voice) or 1-800-700-2320 (TTY).

23. The County says they overpaid me for my benefits and that I owe them. Who can I talk to about this problem?

Answer:
You should speak with your worker or your worker's supervisor immediately. You can also file for a state hearing to contest the overpayment before a state Administrative Law Judge. To request a state hearing, call toll free at 1-800-652-5253 or if you are hearing impaired call 1-800-952-8349 (TDD).

24. I want to report welfare fraud. How can I do this?

Answer:
You can call the Welfare Fraud Hotline at 1-800-344-8477. Additional information can be found at the  CDSS Fraud Bureau website .

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25. I have experienced discrimination during a court proceeding. Who can I complain to about this issue?

Answer:
If you have a complaint against your attorney, you can contact the State Bar of California Association website  or call toll free at 1-800-843-9053.

If you wish to file a complaint against the judge, contact the California Commission on Judicial Performance:

Commission on Judicial Performance
455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14400
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 557-1200 (voice)
(415) 557-1266 (Fax)
CLICK HERE to file a complaint against a judge

If you want to file a complaint about a CDSS Administrative Law Judge, contact the Civil Rights Bureau website.

26. Who can I talk to about my civil rights as it relates to child support issues?

Answer:
Complaints regarding child support can be directed to the Department of Child Support Services website  or call toll free at 1-866-249-0773.

Contact Us

Civil Rights Unit
P.O. Box 944243, M/S 8-16-70
Sacramento, CA 94244-2430
Phone:  (916) 654-2107
Toll free:  1-866-741-6241
Email:  crb@dss.ca.gov

County Point of Contact
County Civil Rights Coordinator