GETTING UNCLE SAM TO ENFORCE YOUR CIVIL RIGHTS

WHEN AND WHERE TO FILE A COMPLAINTóFEDERALLY ASSISTED PROGRAMS

Discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, or disability in federally assisted programs is prohibited. This prohibition applies to recipients of federal assistance and subrecipients. Discrimination on the basis of sex or religion is also prohibited in some federally assisted programs. Discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited in all federally assisted education programs.

In addition, recipients of federal funds are required to provide linguistic accessibility to individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP), such as translation services and written notice informing them of their rights.

Laws barring discrimination because of race, color, national origin, or disability in federally assisted programs cover benefits and services provided by the program. As a result, recipients of federal assistance may not discriminate to:

Laws barring discrimination in federally assisted programs usually do not cover employment by the program, unless: (1) a main purpose of the operation is to provide employment; (2) discrimination in employment could cause discrimination in benefits or services; or (3) an allegation of disability discrimination is made.

In the event that employment is covered, you should file such a complaint with the federal agency funding the program. Also, job discrimination is covered by other laws, and complaints should also be filed as described in the employment section of this publication. 

Laws barring discrimination in federally assisted programs are normally enforced by the agency that provides the assistance. If a recipient of federal funds is found to be discriminating and refuses to come into compliance with the law, the federal agency may terminate the funding to that recipient or refer the case to the Department of Justice for possible litigation.

Complaints alleging discrimination in federally assisted programs should generally be filed with the appropriate federal agency within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act. However, some agencies allow more time to file a complaint, while others allow as few as 90 days. You should check with the appropriate agency as quickly as possible if you believe you have been discriminated against. If you do not know which federal agency funds the program, but you believe it probably receives federal assistance, you may file with the Coordination and Review Section of the Department of Justice. That office will refer your complaint to the appropriate federal agency.

Information on where to file complaints about federally assisted education, employment, housing, and law enforcement programs is contained in other sections of chapter 3. Programs in agriculture, health and welfare, recreation, transportation, environmental control, and other fields are covered in this section.

Department of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture handles complaints alleging discrimination in agricultural and rural programs. Some complaints that should be filed with the Department of Agriculture are:

All of these programs are covered by laws or regulations prohibiting discrimination based on race, national origin, color, age, or disability. Housing programs are also covered by laws or regulations that prohibit discrimination based on marital/family status and religion.

If you believe you have been discriminated against by one of the above programs or by any other program that receives assistance from the Department of Agriculture, send your complaint to:

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of Civil Rights Enforcement
Reporterís Building, Suite 400
Mail Stop 9430
Washington, DC 20250-9401
(202) 720-5964
Fax: (202) 690-5686
www.usda.gov/cr

Department of Energy

To conserve needed energy and aid those persons least able to afford higher utility costs, the Department of Energyís weatherization assistance program makes funds available to states, local governments, community action agencies, and, in certain instances, Native American tribal organizations to insulate the dwellings of low-income persons, especially the elderly and disabled. All low-income households are eligible to receive this assistance, which includes the making of furnace efficiency modifications and the installation of weatherization materials such as ceiling insulation, caulking, weather stripping, and storm windows.

If you think you have been discriminated against by a state or local government or by a community action agency in trying to get assistance under the weatherization program, write to:

U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Civil Rights
1000 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 5B168
Washington, DC 20585
(202) 586-2218
(800) 424-9246
Fax: (202) 586-0888
www.doe.gov

Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency provides financial assistance to state and local governments, tribal governments, and local education programs (this means any educational program or activity, not only those conducted by a formal educational institution) that deal, among others, with:

Allegations that residents of predominantly minority and low-income communities bear a disproportionate share of environmentally related health risks are investigated by the agencyís external compliance program, which is managed in collaboration with the agencyís Office of Environmental Justice.

If you think that you have been discriminated against in programs funded by the EPA write to:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Civil Rights
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 2540
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-7272
(800) 424-9346
TTY: (202) 260-4565
Fax: (202) 501-1836
www.epa.gov

Department of Health and Human Services

Many institutions and people receive funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Among them are:

If you think you have been discriminated against by an entity that receives funds from HHS, send the complaint to a Regional Manager of the Office for Civil Rights or to:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Director, Office for Civil Rights
200 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 509F
Washington, DC 20201
(202) 619-0403
Voice hot line: (202) 863-0100
TTY: (202) 863-0101
Voice toll-free: (800) 368-1019
TTY toll-free: (800) 537-7697
Fax: (202) 619-3818
www.hhs.gov/ocr

Department of the Interior

The Department of the Interior provides funding for natural resource, recreation, and wildlife programs.

Through the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior provides funds to:

If you think that you have, or your community has been discriminated against in the receipt of any of these National Park Service funds, contact:

U.S. Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Office of Equal Opportunity
1201 I Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 354-1852
Fax: (202) 321-1449
www.doi.gov

The Fish and Wildlife Service provides federal financial assistance for:

If you think you have, or your community has been discriminated against in Fish and Wildlife Service programs, write to:

U.S. Department of the Interior
Fish and Wildlife Programs
Federally Assisted and Conducted Programs
Webb Building
4040 North Fairfax Drive, Room 300
Arlington, VA 22203
(703) 358-1724
TTY: (703) 358-2549
Fax: (703) 358-2030

Complaints regarding all other programs funded by the Department of the Interior should be sent to:

U.S. Department of the Interior
Office of Equal Opportunity
Federal Financial Assistance Programs
Interior Building
1849 C Street, NW, Room MS5214
Washington, DC 20240
(202) 208-5694
TTY: (202) 208-5998
Fax: (202) 208-6112

Department of Transportation

Programs funded by the Department of Transportation (DOT) are prohibited from discriminating on the bases of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, and low-income status. If you believe that an entity which receives funds from DOT, or an entity involved in transportation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, is discriminating in providing or denying a service, write to:

U.S. Department of Transportation
Departmental Office of Civil Rights, S-33
400 Seventh Street, SW, Room 10215
Washington, DC 20590
(202) 366-4648
TTY: (202) 366-5273
Fax: (202) 366-9371
www.dot.gov/ost/docr

You may also write to the appropriate operating administrationís Office of Civil Rights listed below.

For highways, curb cuts, parking for people with disabilities, write to:

Federal Highway Administration
Office of Civil Rights, HCR-1
400 Seventh Street, SW, Room 4132
Washington, DC 20590
(202) 366-0693
TTY: (202) 366-5751
Fax: (202) 366-1599
www.dot.gov

For railroads and AMTRAK, write to:

Federal Railroad Administration
Office of Civil Rights, ROA-10
400 Seventh Street, SW, Mail Stop 5
Washington, DC 20590
(202) 493-6009
TTY: (202) 493-6488
Fax: (202) 493-6009

For public surface transportation such as buses, paratransit vehicles, and subways, write to:

Federal Transit Administration
Office of Civil Rights
400 Seventh Street, SW, Suite 9100
Washington, DC 20590
(202) 366-4018
www.fta.dot.gov/index.html

For airline disputes, write to:

Aviation Consumer Protection Division
Office of Aviation Enforcement Proceedings, I-25
400 Seventh Street, SW, Room 4107
Washington, DC 20590
(202) 366-5957
www.dot.gov/airconsumer

For businesses serving the public on airport property, write to:

Federal Aviation Administration
Assistant Administrator for Civil Rights, ACR-1
800 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 1030
Washington, DC 20591
(202) 267-3254
Fax: (202) 267-5565
www.dot.gov

For driverís licensing and motor vehicle bureaus, write to:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Office of Civil Rights, NOA-20
400 Seventh Street, SW, Room 6128
Washington, DC 20590
(202) 366-6795
TTY: (800) 877-0996
Fax: (202) 366-3475
www.dot.gov

For ports, ships, and their certification and licensing, write to:

U.S. Coast Guard
Office of Civil Rights, G-H
2100 Second Street, SW, Room 2400
Washington, DC 20593
(202) 267-1562
Fax: (202) 267-4282
www.uscg.mil

If you think you have been discriminated against by a program operated under a community development grant, write to the appropriate area office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development listed in your telephone book. You may also contact HUDís Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

If you think you have been discriminated against by the National Guard, the Civilian Health and Medical Programs of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS), or by another defense program, such as a program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or of the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, write to:

U.S. Department of Defense
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Equal Opportunity
4000 Defense, The Pentagon, Room 3A272
Washington, DC 20301-4000
(703) 693-0105
Fax: (703) 697-7534
www.dtic.mil

If you think you have been discriminated against by any program funded or assisted by the Department of Commerce, write to:

U.S. Department of Commerce
Office of Civil Rights
Herbert C. Hoover Building
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 6012
Washington, DC 20230
(202) 482-5691
TTY: (202) 482-5691
TTY: (800) 877-8339
Fax: (202) 482-5375
www.osec.doc.gov/ocr

If you think you have been discriminated against by a company that receives or dispenses Small Business Administration funds, write to:

U.S. Small Business Administration
Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights Compliance
409 Third Street, SW, Suite 4600
Washington, DC 20416
(202) 205-6750
(800) 827-5722
TTY: (202) 205-7150
Fax: (202) 205-7580
www.sba.gov

Direct discrimination by a federal agency in awarding grants to community organizations, governments, or others is not necessarily barred by federal statutes. However, it is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. Complaints should be filed with the agency responsible for the discriminatory act; if that agency does not act, you may have to file a lawsuit to protect your rights.

The Coordination and Review Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice serves as the coordinator of enforcement by federal agencies of all statutes that prohibit discrimination in programs that receive federal financial assistance. If you think you have been discriminated against by an agency that receives federal assistance and you donít know which agency to contact, write to the Coordination and Review Section at the address below:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Coordination and Review Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 307-2222
TTY: (202) 307-2678
Fax: (202) 307-0595
www.usdoj.gov/crt/cor/index.htm