Department of Human Services
Food Stamp Online† Policy Manual
Rights and Responsibilities
The Tennessee Department of Human Services, at all administrative levels, shall not discriminate against any applicant or participant, in any program aspect, for reasons of age, race, color, sex, handicap, religious creed, national origin, or political belief.† Discrimination in any aspect of program administration is prohibited by the Food Stamp Act of 1977 (Title XIII, P. 95-113), The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-135), The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-112, sec. 504), and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. sec. 2000d.). Enforcement may be brought under any applicable Federal Law.
Individuals who believe that they have been subject to discrimination for reasons of age, race, color, sex, handicap, religious creed, national origin, or political beliefs, may file a written complaint with the USDA by writing to:† USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or by calling (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD).† Staff members should explain the FNS complaint system to each individual who expresses an interest in filing a discrimination complaint and advise the individual of his right to file either in the Federal or the State System or in both systems.
(a) FNS Discrimination Requirements
The complaint must contain the following information in order to facilitate the investigation:
1. The name, address, and telephone number or other means of contacting the person alleging discrimination.†††
2. The location and name of the organization or office which is accused of discriminatory practices.
3. The nature of the incident or action or the aspect of program administration that led the person to allege discrimination.
4. The reason for the alleged discrimination (age, race, color, etc).
5. The names and titles (if appropriate), and the addresses of persons who may have knowledge of the alleged discriminatory acts.
6. The dates, or date, on which the alleged discriminatory action occurred.
(b) State Requirements for Discrimination Complaints in Food Stamps
1. Receipt of Discriminatory Complaint
Discrimination complaints may be addressed to the appropriate county supervisor or may be forwarded to the DHS Title VI Coordinator, 400 Deaderick Street, Citizens Plaza Building, 3rd floor, Nashville, Tn. 37248-2000.
2. A Title VI complaint must be in writing, and must be signed and filed within 180 days of the date of the alleged discrimination.† The complaint may be filed by an individual, a class, or by a third party (including friend, attorney, and relative).† If a third party submits the complaint, the relationship to the complainant must be included.† The complaint must include:
(i) the complainantís name, address and telephone number;
(ii) the name and address of the institution the complainant believes discriminated against him or her; and
(iii) the reason for the alleged discrimination, including names, dates, and as much background information as possible.
3. If the complainant refuses to file an official written complaint, the facts will simply be recorded in detail.
4. Upon receipt of a written complaint, a complete investigation shall be made promptly.† When it is found that discrimination has occurred, corrective action shall be planned immediately.† In any instance, a written report of the investigation must be made within 30 calendar days after the date the complaint is filed.†
5. Complaints of discrimination will be registered and processed through the same system as the Fair Hearing process.
6. When the complaint applies to discriminatory actions on the part of contracting agencies, individuals, or institutions from which assistance or service, is purchased or secured by the Department, the complainant will be interviewed to secure as much information as possible concerning the nature of the complaint, circumstances which precipitated it, and the date the alleged act occurred.† The information will be recorded and forwarded to the Commissioner through the District Office.
(a) A leaflet outlining the complaint procedure will be available in each county office and is to be handled or mailed to any inquirer upon request.
(b) All Tennessee Department of Human Services Offices will prominently display the nondiscrimination poster provided by FNS.
(c) The Department shall insure that recipients and other low-income households shall have access to information regarding nondiscrimination statues and policies, complaint procedures and rights of participants, within ten (10) days of the date of request.
Data shall be collected on all applicant/participant households by racial/ethnic category as specified and required by the USDA.† This data shall be gathered through the following methods:
1. The applicant may be requested to identify voluntarily their race or ethnicity on the application form.† The application shall clearly indicate that the information is to assure that program benefits are distributed without regard to race, color or national origin.
2. When the information on racial/ethnic data is not voluntarily provided by the household on the application form the worker at the intake interview must make this determination by observation.† A notation that this determination was made by workerís observation should be made on the application form and initialed by the worker.