Civil Rights and Complaints

Created on: 
Nov 18 2015

Revised June 30, 2015


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

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

Your civil rights when you do business with us; 
This includes:

  • 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.

USDA Non-discrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, disability, age, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.
To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:
(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-426-0005

  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.

    • DSHS 22-552(X), Nondiscrimination in the Food Stamp Program

    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.

Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-426-0005

  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:
    1. How to make a complaint;
    2. Their right to talk to a supervisor;
    3. Their option to call customer relations at 1-800-865-7801; and
    4. 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:
    1. Help them write down their complaint as needed;
    2. Give them the number for customer relations if they ask for it; and
    3. Get the complaint to the person who supervises the client's worker right away.
  5. Civil rights complaints:
    1. 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.
    2. If the person is applying for or gets food assistance, give them DSHS 22-252 - Nondiscrimination in the Food Stamp Program.
    3. If the client is applying for or gets benefits from other programs, give them DSHS 22-171(X) - Discrimination brochure / complaint form.
    4. Help the person write down their complaint as needed;
    5. Get the complaint to the person who supervises the client's worker right away.
    6. 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
    1. Date of complaint;
    2. Name, address, telephone number, and client ID of the person making the complaint;
    3. The specific location and name of the agency that authorizes the benefits;
    4. Type of complaint (race, color, sex, political beliefs, etc.);
    5. The names, titles, and business addresses of people who may know about the action or decision in the complaint;
    6. How we addressed the complaint and the date we did this; and
    7. 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.
  8. Client Demographics on Race / Ethnicity at interview:
    1. ​​At interview, inform clients that we must collect racial & ethnic information for statistical reporting requirements and that the information has no impact on eligibility. 
    2. Ask clients to self-identify their racial and ethnic group.
    3. If the client chooses not to identify a race / ethnic group,  make a visual determination where possible and record this information in the demographics.  This is required under federal regulations. 
    4. Allow the household to update this information by self-identifying if they choose to do so.