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External Compliance Program

Please read this Statement from Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Eric S. Dreiband in which he states that civil rights laws and their implementing regulations remain in effect and will be vigorously enforced during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).


The External Compliance Program oversees and monitors the Department’s compliance with statutes that prohibit discrimination in federally conducted programs and federally assisted programs. In carrying out this function, the Office of Civil Rights, External Compliance Program, receives and processes complaints from individuals who believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of race, color, national origin (limited English proficiency), age, sex, disability, or reprisal in Federally conducted and Federally assisted programs or activities.  Federally conducted programs are those that are directly administered by the Department of Commerce.  Federally assisted programs are those programs that receive Federal financial assistance.

Race, Color, and National Origin Discrimination, Including Meaningful Access for Persons Who Are Limited English Proficient

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Executive Order 13166 prohibit exclusion from participation in, denial of benefits of, and discrimination under Federally-assisted programs on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, including limited English proficiency.  Executive Order 13166 requires Federal agencies to ensure meaningful access to Federal programs for limited English proficient persons.  DOC has promulgated regulations to effectuate the applicable provisions of Title VI.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits exclusion from participation in, denial of the benefits of, or discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.  DOC has promulgated regulations to effectuate the applicable provisions of Title IX.

The Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3123, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any project funded under that statute.

The Public Works Employment Act of 1976, 42 U.S.C. § 6709, also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any project funded under that statute.

Disability Discrimination

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits exclusion from participation in, denial of benefits of, and discrimination under Federally assisted programs on the grounds of disability.  DOC has promulgated regulations to implement section 504 with respect to programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires Federal agencies to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to and use of information and data comparable to the access and use of the information by members of the public who are not individuals with disabilities.  DOC has promulgated regulations to effectuate the applicable provisions of Section 508.

For more information on how to file a Section 508 Complaint, please visit OCR’s Complaint page

Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance.

How to File a Complaint

  • Complaints about race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability discrimination involving recipients of Federal financial assistance from the Department of Commerce and its Bureaus should be filed with the following: 

       Tinisha Agramonte, Director, Office of Civil Rights

       U.S. Department of Commerce, Room 6058

       1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W.

        Washington, D.C.  20230 

OCR staff are also available to provide assistance with filing complaints by calling (202) 482-0625.

  • Complaints about disability discrimination in programs conducted by the Department of Commerce and its bureaus should be filed with the following:

File your complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer of the Bureau conducting the program or the Director, Office of Civil Rights, at the above address.

OCR staff are available to provide assistance with filing complaints by calling (202) 482‑0625.  

  • Complaints should be in writing and should contain the following information:
    • Sufficient information to understand the facts that led the complainant to believe discrimination occurred and when the discrimination took place
    •  A way to contact the complainant (a mailing address, and if applicable, a telephone number and e-mail address)
    • Identification of the person or group injured by the alleged discrimination
    • Identification of the person or organization alleged to have discriminated
    •  The basis for the alleged discrimination, e.g., race, national origin, or disability

Helpful External Compliance Websites

Department of Justice’s Federal Coordination and Compliance Section

The Federal Coordination and Compliance Section (FCS) is a section within the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division which ensures that all federal agencies consistently and effectively enforce civil rights statutes and Executive Orders prohibiting discrimination in federally-conducted and assisted programs and activities.

LEP.gov

LEP.gov is the website of the Interagency Working Group on Limited English Proficiency and is maintained by FCS.  It includes resources and information to help expand and improve language assistance services for individuals with limited English proficiency, in compliance with federal law.

Department of Justice’s Disability Rights Section

The Disability Rights Section is a section within the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division which works to achieve equal opportunity for people with disabilities in the United States.  It implements the Americans with Disabilities Act and carries out responsibilities under Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

U.S. Access Board

The U.S. Access Board is an independent federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards.  It ensures access to federally-funded facilities and develops/maintains design criteria for the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, medical diagnostic equipment, and information technology.  The Board also enforces the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968.

Section508.gov

Section508.gov is a U.S. General Services Administration, Office of Government-wide Policy website that provides guidance to individuals who play a role in Information Technology accessibility for Federal agencies.

Bureaus and Offices