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Civil Rights

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FAQs

The statutory and regulatory information contained on this page does not constitute legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. The OCR makes no guarantee that the statutory authority or regulatory code citied within is the most current version of said law/regulation. For more recent versions of the U.S. Code and the CFR, users should consult the official revised U.S.C. or the eCFR.

We carefully consider all complaints. Upon receiving a complaint, OCR will determine whether it has jurisdiction to investigate the complaint and whether the complaint contains enough preliminary information to support a claim. If so, OCR will contact you and the agency that is the subject of the complaint to begin an investigation.

Yes. You should file your complaint as soon as possible. In some instances, you may have only 180 days after the alleged incident. In others, you may have at most one year after the alleged incident to file with OCR.

Yes. On request, we will do our best to keep all information confidential. However, we strongly encourage complainants to also sign and submit an Identity Release Statement. This allows OCR to release a complainant's name to the agency that is the subject of the complaint. Although submitting the IRS is not required, its absence often constrains OCR's investigation so much that it must close the complaint.

Civil rights laws prohibit agencies that receive Justice Department funding from retaliating against you. A retaliation claim stands independent from the underlying discrimination claim. If you believe you have been the target of retaliation, you should file a complaint with us.

An example would be the failure of a funded correctional facility to provide interpreter services to hearing-impaired inmates. Another example would be a funded police department's practice of stopping and interrogating, without cause, all Hispanic males driving on a particular highway.

An example would be a policy that prefers males over females in recruiting entry-level patrol officers.

Unfortunately, OCR is unable to assist you in finding legal representation. However, the Legal Services Corporation, a federally funded program to assist low-income people, is often a valuable resource. The Legal Services Corporation website includes information on how to contact a legal aid office near you.

This Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3789d (Safe Streets Act), prohibits recipients who receive federal funding under this statute from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or sex.

This Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, et seq. (Title VI), prohibits recipients of financial assistance from the Justice Department of discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin in the delivery of services or benefits. Under certain circumstances, when a primary purpose of a funded program or activity is employment, Title VI may apply also to employment discrimination claims. The Justice Department has also interpreted national origin discrimination to require funding recipients to provide people with limited English proficiency access to their programs or activities.

Section 504, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (Section 504), prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, in regard to both employment and the delivery of services or benefits, in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

Title II of the Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12132 (Title II), prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in employment and the delivery of services or benefits in public entities. Title II applies to all state and local governments.

This Act of 1975, 42 U.S.C. § 6102 (Age Act), prohibits age discrimination in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. OCR enforces this Act related to services discrimination based on age. For more, see Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

OCR will accept third-party discrimination complaints on behalf of individuals who are either unable or reluctant to file a claim. However, the absence of a signed Identity Release Statement from the aggrieved party may severely limit the investigation.

No. If OCR finds that your complaint has merit, federal regulations require OCR to work with the funded agency to bring it into compliance with applicable federal civil-rights laws. These negotiations may result in a formal resolution agreement, which states remedial actions the funded agency agrees to take. A complainant has the right to review and comment on a resolution agreement before it becomes final. However, OCR alone decides that the resolution agreement's terms are acceptable.