California’s protection & advocacy system
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We are proud of making a difference in the lives of Californians with disabilities. We accomplish that in a number of ways, including representing clients at hearings; filing lawsuits; providing materials, information, training, and referrals; promoting self-advocacy; advocating for public policy changes; and conducting investigations and monitoring service delivery. Our successes are best told through the stories of our clients. A couple are included below. See our Annual Reports for more.
Court rules in client’s favor of accessible parking in Torrance, CA
Katie Bassilios has a disability that makes it difficult for her to walk farther than 50 feet. She has an assigned parking space behind her apartment complex. But she can’t use it because she has difficulty getting to it. So she has to park on the street in front of her home. But when space isn’t available she’s forced to park elsewhere and walk farther than is comfortable for her. Katie asked the City of Torrance to designate a space in front of her apartment building as disabled parking by painting the curb blue. The cost was minimal. While state law allows cities to designate parking for people with disabilities who have a placard, Torrance declined to provide them and in fact, denied all requests in residential areas since 1999. Katie contacted DRC and attorneys Autumn Elliott and Andrew Berk filed a complaint in federal court, saying Torrance violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for failing to provide her equal access to on street parking and denying her a reasonable modification.
A federal judge ruled that parking in the city is a program covered by the ADA and installing a blue curb parking space is a reasonable modification for the city to make. Katie now has a space. “It’s a liberating feeling to be able to come and go from my house like anyone else,” she said.
DRC client gets vehicle modification so he can keep his job
Rual Zenteno has been a customer care representative for a Lexus Dealership in Van Nuys since 2005. In 2013, he risked losing his job and not being able to support his family.
He uses a power wheelchair and has a modified vehicle to travel to and from work. His van, which the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) purchased nearly 20 years ago, had more than 200 thousand miles. It regularly broke down, and many of the modifications didn’t work properly. “The modifications are critical in allowing me to drive myself to and from work without relying on someone else,” Rual said. “I also have to get my six-year-old daughter to school and her activities.”
Rual asked DOR to modify a new vehicle he purchased himself. But the department denied his request. He contacted DRC and Rebecca Hoyt, advocate for the Client Assistance Program (CAP), represented him in an administrative hearing. The judge ordered DOR to make the modifications to Rual’s van. “I am eternally indebted to DRC for helping me fight the bureaucracy to get what I need, to not only stay employed, but remain independent and help my daughter.”
Equal Opportunity is more than a policy to us. We are only able to do what we do because we hire a workforce that effectively interacts with people with disabilities, and multicultural and underserved communities. The numbers speak for themselves:
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We offer a comprehensive benefit plan for eligible employees. Benefits include health (HMO and PPO options), dental, vision, basic life, short-term and long-term disability insurance, a 401(k) retirement plan with a generous matching contribution, and flexible spending accounts. Flexible spending accounts feature reimbursement for both medical, dependent care and commuter.
Additionally, we offer supplemental products that employees can purchase through payroll deduction. These include supplemental life insurance and long-term care insurance.
Employees who work a minimum of 20 hours/week have the option of electing an HMO through UnitedHealthcare or Kaiser Permanente, or a PPO through UnitedHealthcare. DRC offers coverage for the employee plus eligible dependents. DRC pays about 90% of the medical premium for employees, and about 65% of the medical premium for dependents. (Percentages may vary depending on the employee’s salary.)
Employees who work a minimum of 30 hours/week have the option of electing a Dental HMO or PPO plan through Delta Dental. DRC offers coverage for the employee plus eligible dependents. DRC provides flex credits which employees can use to purchase the HMO plan, with an option to buy-up to the PPO.
Voluntary Vision Coverage
Employees who work a minimum of 20 hours/week may enroll in the vision plan through VSP. DRC offers coverage for the employee plus eligible dependents.
Employees must contribute at least 3% of their salary in order to participate in the 401(k). They are eligible to contribute from the first day of employment. After successfully completing six months of employment, DRC will match the employee’s contribution at the rate of “+1%”, to a maximum of 7%.
Example: Employees who contribute 3% receive a 4% match. Employees who receive 6% receive a 7% match. Employees who contribute 10% receive a 7% match. There is no vesting schedule for the matching contribution.
Employees who work a minimum of 30 hours/week will be enrolled in the Basic Life and Disability plans (Short and Long Term) through Cigna.
Employees work a minimum of 20 hours/week who wish to purchase additional life insurance may buy in increments of $10,000, up to the guarantee issue. Amounts over the guarantee issue require evidence of insurability.
Employees may also enroll in spousal coverage in $5,000 increments up to the guarantee issue. Coverage for children is also offered in increments of $2,000 up to the guarantee issue.
Health Care and Limited Purpose FSA
Employees may enroll in the Health Care FSA or Limited Purpose FSA if they wish to be reimbursed for qualifying out-of-pocket health care, dental or vision expenses for themselves or their eligible dependents.
Dependent Care FSA
Employees may enroll in the Dependent Care FSA if they wish to be reimbursed for qualifying child care expenses for their eligible dependents.
Employees may enroll in either the Parking, Transit or both accounts if they wish to be reimbursed for qualified commuter expenses. Dependent on the employee’s regular work location, some employees may be eligible for the employer’s contribution. All FSA and Commuter plans are administered by a Third Party Administer. Currently our TPA is ADP.
Vacation and Holiday and Time Off
Full time employees accrue vacation time off based on their length of service, starting at 12 days per year.
Part time employees accrue vacation time off based on their length of service and on a pro-rata basis consistent with their percentage of full time equivalency (FTE).
Full time employees receive 12 agency observed holidays and part-time employees will receive the agency observed holidays on a pro-rata basis based on their percent of full time equivalency (FTE).
Full time employees receive 8 hours of sick time per month. Part time employees accrue sick time off based on a pro-rata basis consistent with their percentage of full time equivalency (FTE).
Disability Rights California is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified persons with disabilities who need accommodations to perform their essential job functions. If you need any accommodations in order to apply for one of our openings, please contact us at DRCHR@disabilityrightsca.org.
Disability Rights California is an Equal Opportunities Employer. It is the policy of Disability Rights California to prohibit discrimination and harassment of any type and to afford equal employment opportunities to employees and applicants, without regard to race, color, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, pregnancy, medical condition or genetic information, veteran status, national origin, disability, marital or other protected status. Disability Rights California will conform to the spirit, as well as the letter of all applicable laws and regulations.
All individuals who will work for Disability Rights California are required to undergo a criminal background check and a search of public records from an outside agency. Employment is contingent upon the outcome.