Guidance on the Prohibition of National Origin Discrimination


Publication Date: November 13, 2000

Information Memorandum


DATE: November 13, 2000


SUBJECT: Policy Guidance on the Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination as It Affects Persons with Limited English Proficiency.

REFERENCES: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et. Seq. and its implementing regulation at 45 C.F.R. Part 80 which provide that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin under any program or activity that received Federal financial assistance. In Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563 (1974), the Supreme Court recognized that recipients of Federal financial assistance have an affirmative responsibility, pursuant to Title VI, to provide LEP persons with meaningful opportunity to participate in public programs.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this policy guidance is to clarify the responsibilities of providers of health and social services who receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities to persons with Limited English Proficient (LEP). All entities that receive Federal financial assistance from HHS, either directly or indirectly, through a grant contract or subcontract, are covered by this policy guidance.

BACKGROUND: States and many other providers of health and social services have legal obligations to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing regulation.

CONTENT: The policy guidance reiterates HHS’ longstanding position that in order to avoid discrimination against LEP persons on grounds of national origin, health and social service providers must take adequate steps to ensure that such persons receive the language assistance necessary to afford them meaningful access to their services, free of charge. The guidance also clarifies for health and social service providers, and members of the public, that a recipient or covered entity must assess what steps it can take to ensure that eligible LEP persons have meaningful access to programs and services. This guidance also provides examples of policies and practices that the Office for Civil Rights, HHS, would find in violation of Title VI, and sets out the policies, procedures and other steps that recipients can take to ensure meaningful access to their programs by LEP persons. Appendix A to the guidance is a series of questions and answers that provides a useful summary of a number of the major aspects of the guidance.

This information was developed by the Office for Civil Rights, HHS, and is consistent with a Department of Justice (DOJ) directive noting that recipient/covered entities have an obligation pursuant to Title VI’s prohibition against national origin discrimination to provide oral and written language assistance to LEP persons.

ACTION: Please distribute to all State and local staff involved in providing child support enforcement services.

INQUIRIES: Inquiries should be directed to ACF Hub Directors/Regional Administrators or CSE Regional Office contacts; or you may contact the Regional Manager in the Office for Civil Rights.

ATTACHMENT: Guidance issued by U.S. Dept. of HHS, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) "Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination as it Affects Persons with Limited English Proficiency."

This guidance is available through OCR's 10 regional offices, or on the Internet at Visit disclaimer page . Also available in the Federal Register (Vol.65, No. 169); Visit disclaimer page to find it and download the PDF version from the Federal Register, please search by date (Wednesday Aug. 30, 2000) and look under Health and Human Services Department for this guidance.

Note: For other HHS Press Releases and Fact Sheets pertaining to the subject of this announcement, please visit our Office for Public Affairs Visit disclaimer page .

David Gray Ross
Office of Child Support Enforcement

cc: ACF Hub Directors
  ACF Regional Administrators
  ACF/CSE Regional Program Managers