8-2.000 - Enforcement Of Civil Rights Civil Statutes

8-2.010 General Procedures
8-2.100 Civil Rights Matters
8-2.110 Pre- Investigation Review and Investigations
8-2.120 Institution of Civil Proceedings——Authorization
8-2.130 Litigation and Trial
8-2.140 Intervention
8-2.150 Appeals
8-2.160 Cooperation with Private Litigants
8-2.170 Standards for Amicus Participation and Statement of Interest
8-2.210 Employment Litigation Section
8-2.211 Employment Litigation Section——Affirmative Suits Under Title VII
8-2.212 Employment Litigation Section——Affirmative Suits Under Executive Orders 11246, as Amended
8-2.213 Employment Litigation Section——Affirmative Suits under Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
8-2.214 Employment Litigation Section——Defensive Suits
8-2.220 Educational Opportunities Section
8-2.221 Educational Opportunities Section——Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
8-2.222 Educational Opportunities Litigation Section——The Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974
8-2.230 Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
8-2.231 Housing and Civil Enforcement Section——Fair Housing Act
8-2.232 Housing and Civil Enforcement Section——Equal Credit Opportunity Act
8-2.233 Housing and Civil Enforcement Section——Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
8-2.234 Housing and Civil Enforcement Section—Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
8-2.235 Housing and Civil Enforcement Section—Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
8-2.236 Housing and Civil Enforcement Section—Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
8-2.240 Federal Coordination and Compliance Section
8-2.241 Federal Coordination and Compliance Section—Non-Discrimination by Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance
8-2.242 Federal Coordination and Compliance Section—Non-Discrimination by Federal Agencies under Executive Orders 13166 and 13160
8-2.250 Civil Laws Governing Law Enforcement Misconduct
8-2.260 Special Litigation Section
8-2.261 Special Litigation Section—Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons
8-2.262 Special Litigation Section—Law Enforcement Misconduct (Section 12601)
8-2.263 Special Litigation Section—Juvenile Justice (Section 12601 and CRIPA)
8-2.264 Special Litigation Section—Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
8-2.265 Special Litigation Section—Freedom Of Access To Clinic Entrances Act
8-2.266 Special Litigation Section—Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
8-2.270 Voting Section——Overview
8-2.271 Voting Section—Voting Rights Act
8-2.272 Voting Section—Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act
8-2.273 Voting Section—Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act
8-2.274 Voting Section—National Voter Registration Act
8-2.275 Voting Section—Help America Vote Act
8-2.400 Disability Rights Section
8-2.410 Disability Rights Section—United States Attorney's Program for Americans with Disabilities Act Enforcement
8-2.500 Immigrant and Employee Rights Section
8-2.601 Immigrant and Employee Rights Section—Jurisdiction Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)


8-2.010 - General Procedures

Federal law protects against discrimination on a wide range of bases, including race, sex, national origin, religion, disability, familial status, and others, and in a wide range of areas, including voting, public accommodations and facilities, public schools, employment, housing, credit, and in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance, among others. Under these civil rights laws, the Attorney General is authorized to institute civil actions for appropriate relief.

This Title of the United States Attorney’s Manual describes the procedures for investigation, litigation, and trial which are generally applicable to criminal and civil statutes enforced by the Civil Rights Division, the functions of the various Civil Rights Division Sections under these statutes, the ways in which the Civil Rights Division works with United States Attorney’s Offices on civil rights matters, and the special procedures that must be followed in connection with the enforcement of many civil rights statutes. These special procedures are described in the paragraphs devoted to the Section responsible for enforcing the statute.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.100 - Civil Rights Matters

Under 28 C.F.R. § 0.50, the Civil Rights Division has the responsibility for the enforcement of all federal civil rights statutes, with the exception of certain criminal matters assigned to the Criminal Division. United States Attorney’s Offices are critical partners in civil rights enforcement, providing additional resources to redress civil rights violations, expertise on local circumstances in both investigations and litigation, and, in many cases, subject matter expertise in particular civil rights areas. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorneys should cooperate in the enforcement of civil rights laws by taking complementary steps to protect fully the interests of the United States and to assure the effective investigation and successful prosecution of civil rights cases. The nature of the cooperation between the Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Offices varies according to the statute and matter involved. Thus, greater specificity on how the Civil Rights Division and United States Attorney’s Offices should work together is provided in the subsections below.

The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division’s authority to settle claims is subject to the limitations set forth in 28 C.F.R. §§ 0.160 to 0.164.  The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

The following procedures are generally applicable to investigation and litigation in civil matters in which the Civil Rights Division has primary responsibility.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.110 -  Pre-Investigation Review and Investigations

Information that may indicate an investigation under a federal civil rights statute is appropriate may come to the Civil Rights Division or a United States Attorney’s Office through a variety of channels, including referrals or complaints from other federal agencies, victims or community organizations, private attorneys, media coverage, and other sources. Upon receiving such information, the Civil Rights Division or the United States Attorney’s Office may engage in a pre-investigation review to determine whether an investigation is appropriate. Pre-investigation review includes taking actions such as speaking to and reviewing materials received from a complainant and reviewing publicly available information.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a violation of a federal civil rights statute or has initiated a pre-investigation review, that office should forward  the complaint or other information to the Civil Rights Division as soon as practicable.  The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

Absent extraordinary circumstances, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, or his or her designee, usually the relevant Section Chief, will notify the United States Attorney, or his or her designee, before initiating an investigation in the United States Attorney’s district. 

[updated March 2018]


8-2.120 - Institution of Civil Proceedings—Authorization

In most instances, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division shall authorize the filing of a complaint in civil rights cases, and in most cases the complaint must be signed by the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. Some civil rights statutes also require the complaint to be signed by the Attorney General.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.130 - Litigation and Trial

As described in greater detail in other sections of this Title of the United States Attorney’s Manual, the Civil Rights Division will work cooperatively with United States Attorney’s Offices to determine the most appropriate assignment of responsibilities for the preparation of pleadings and other legal documents in connection with the litigation and trial of civil rights cases. Unless specifically delegated, ultimate responsibility for the conduct and resolution of civil rights cases remains with the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.140 - Intervention

Several civil rights statutes specifically authorize the Attorney General to intervene in private plaintiff cases. 

Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000h-2, authorizes the Attorney General to intervene in cases of general public importance involving alleged denials of equal protection of the laws on account of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In light of the statutory requirement of certification by the Attorney General, any request for intervention from a private litigant received by the United States Attorney should be forwarded to the Civil Rights Division with a recommendation.

Additionally, the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3613(e), Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12188, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-6, authorizes the Attorney General to intervene in cases initiated by private individuals when she or he certifies that the case is of general public importance.

Similarly, the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997c, authorizes the Attorney General to intervene in any action commenced in any court of the United States seeking relief from conditions depriving persons in state or local institutions of their federal rights when the Attorney General has reason to believe that such deprivation is pursuant to a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of such rights, privileges, or immunities. A motion to intervene may not be filed until 90 days after the commencement of the action. In the motion to intervene, the Attorney General must certify to the court that the appropriate state officials have been notified of (a) the alleged conditions and pattern or practice; (b) the supporting facts giving rise to the alleged conditions; and (c) the minimum measures that may remedy the alleged conditions and the alleged pattern or practice. Motions to intervene and certifications must be signed by the Attorney General personally.

The Equal Educational Opportunities Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1709, authorizes the Attorney General to intervene in cases initiated by private individuals for denials of educational opportunity under Section 1706 upon timely application.

The United States Attorney’s Office should notify the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, or his or her designee, upon learning of a case in which intervention by the United States under these statutes or any other civil rights statute might be appropriate, or when directed by a court to intervene.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.150 - Appeals

The Appellate Section of the Civil Rights Division handles appeals of civil and criminal civil rights cases in which the United States is a party, including cases that were handled by the Civil Rights Division, a United States Attorney’s Office, or jointly by both offices in federal district court. The Civil Rights Division has a strong interest in ensuring that the Department of Justice presents consistent arguments nationwide on civil rights issues. Accordingly, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, or his or her designee, usually the Section Chief of the Appellate Section, will determine whether an appeal will be handled by the Civil Rights Division or the United States Attorney’s Office. Factors that will be considered in assigning appellate responsibility include (1) the complexity of the civil rights issues in the case and their importance to the Civil Rights Division; (2) the availability of resources; and (3) whether the United States Attorney’s Office participated in the litigation in district court and has an interest in handling the appeal.

When the Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office agree that the United States Attorney’s Office will handle an appeal, the Appellate Section of the Civil Rights Division nevertheless must review and approve all substantive pleadings. All substantive pleadings must be provided to the Appellate Section for review and approval 7 days prior to the filing deadline. 

When a United States Attorney’s Office learns of an appeal in a civil rights case that was handled at the trial level by the United States Attorney’s Office, that office should notify the Appellate Section as soon as practicable.

As discussed in 8-2.170D, a United States Attorney’s Office also must coordinate with the Appellate Section regarding any recommendation to the Solicitor General to participate as amicus curiae in any civil rights appeal. The Appellate Section will promptly advise the relevant United States Attorney when the Appellate Section plans to participate as a party or seek authorization to participate as amicus curiae in an appeal in a case that arose in the United States Attorney’s district. 

[updated March 2018]


8-2.160 - Cooperation with Private Litigants

It is the longstanding policy of the Department of Justice to avoid providing legal advice or information to private litigants developed through our investigations. It is appropriate, however, to advise private citizens who are not litigants of their rights under the federal laws that the Attorney General is authorized to enforce, including the citizens’ right to be represented by private attorneys. In addition, in cases in which the United States is a co-litigant with a private plaintiff, it is appropriate to consult with the co-litigant about evidence the United States expects to submit to the court and otherwise to cooperate and share information with the co-litigant where doing so advances the interest of the United States and is consistent with applicable law and the rules of the court.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.170 - Standards for Amicus Participation and Statements of Interest

  1. Guidelines. Amicus participation by the Civil Rights Division generally should be limited to cases:   
    • in which a court requests participation by the Civil Rights Division;
    • which challenge the constitutionality of a federal civil rights statute (cf. 28 U.S.C. § 2403(a));
    • which involve the interpretation of a civil rights statute, Executive Order, or regulation that the Department of Justice promulgated or that the Department of Justice (or another federal agency) is empowered to enforce;
    • which raise issues whose resolution will likely affect the scope of the Civil Rights Division’s enforcement jurisdiction (e.g., cases involving the concept of state action under the Fourteenth Amendment);
    • which raise constitutional challenges of public importance under the First or Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution;
    • which raise issues that could significantly affect private enforcement of the statutes the Civil Rights Division enforces; or
    • in which a special federal interest is clear and is not likely to be well-served by private litigants.
       
    Amicus participation in instances not meeting the above criteria may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
     
  2. Other Factors. In addition to the general guidelines, other factors that should be considered in determining whether to recommend amicus participation include:
    • the importance of the issue to be addressed, the level of the court in which it is posed, and the probable impact of its resolution;
    • the probability that the Civil Rights Division will be able to contribute substantially to the resolution of the case (e.g., competence of private counsel, state of the record, timeliness);
    • the wisdom of amicus participation as distinguished from intervention; and
    • the Civil Rights Division’s resources.
  3. Statements of Interest in District Courts. The Department of Justice is authorized under 28 U.S.C. §§ 516 and 517 to file statements of interest in federal court cases in which the United States has an interest. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, or his or her designee, may approve the filing of a statement of interest. If a United States Attorney’s Office identifies a case in which it believes that filing a statement of interest would be appropriate, the Office should contact the appropriate Section Chief in the Civil Rights Division to discuss sending a recommendation to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, or his or her designee, for approval of participation.
  4. Amicus Participation in Appellate Courts. The Appellate Section has primary responsibility for the Civil Rights Division’s amicus participation in appellate courts, subject to the general supervision of the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division and to authorization by the Solicitor General. As noted in Section 8-2.150, if a United States Attorney’s Office identifies a case in a state appellate or supreme court, federal appellate court, or the United States Supreme Court in which amicus participation would be appropriate, the Office should send a recommendation to the Section Chief of the Appellate Section.   

[updated March 2018]


8-2.210 - Employment Litigation Section

The Employment Litigation Section is responsible for the enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, with respect to the statute’s prohibition of employment discrimination by state and local governments; Executive Order 11246, as amended, which prohibits employment discrimination by contractors and subcontractors working on federal or federally-assisted contracts. The Employment Litigation Section also defends: (1) suits challenging the constitutionality of congressionally authorized preference programs under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program and other minority and disadvantaged business enterprise programs; and (2) actions in which a federal contractor, subcontractor, or grantee seeks to enjoin the termination or suspension of federal contracts or funds under Executive Order 11246 or federal funding statutes.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.211 - Employment Litigation Section—Affirmative Suits Under Title VII

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17, forbids employment practices that discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin by employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, state and local governments, governmental agencies, political subdivisions, and the federal government. In addition to discriminatory terminations and refusals to hire, Title VII forbids all other discriminatory practices with respect to terms or conditions of employment as well as retaliation for engaging in activities protected by Title VII.

The Department of Justice shares enforcement authority under Title VII with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The Department of Justice has authority to seek to remedy employment discrimination by state and local governments and their agencies and political subdivisions. The EEOC has authority to seek to remedy employment discrimination by private employers. The EEOC also has primary enforcement responsibility with respect to allegations of discrimination by the federal government.

In the case of a Title VII charge of discrimination against a state or local government or governmental agency, if the EEOC has found reasonable cause to believe a violation has occurred and has been unable to secure an acceptable conciliation agreement, it will refer the charge to the Civil Rights Division, Employment Litigation Section, which may file a civil action under Section 706 of Title VII. In addition, the Employment Litigation Section may, without prior referral, initiate pattern or practice suits under Section 707 of Title VII against state or local government employers.

Persons who complain to the United States Attorney’s Offices of employment discrimination by employers and other organizations covered by Title VII, other than the federal government, should be advised immediately to file their complaint with the EEOC. Those who complain of discrimination by an agency of the federal government should be advised to bring their complaint to the attention of the equal employment opportunity officer of the agency involved and the EEOC.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a potential violation of Title VII, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Employment Litigation Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Employment Litigation Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

NOTE: The Civil Division generally defends federal agencies in employment discrimination suits filed by individuals against the government. The United States Attorney’s Office should notify the Civil Division, rather than the Civil Rights Division, whenever such a suit is filed in the United States Attorney’s district.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.212 - Employment Litigation Section—Affirmative Suits Under Executive Orders 11246, as Amended

In certain circumstances, the Attorney General may bring actions against contractors or subcontractors with the federal government or contractors or subcontractors on federally-assisted contracts to enforce the requirements of Executive Order 11246, as amended. Executive Order 11246 forbids discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin by such contractors or subcontractors. The Department of Labor, which retains primary enforcement responsibility, may, if unable to obtain compliance, refer the case to the Department of Justice for appropriate legal proceedings. The text of Executive Order 11246, as amended, is set forth immediately following Section 2000e of Title 42 of the United States Code.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.213 - Employment Litigation Section—Affirmative Suits under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301 to 4323 (USERRA), provides protections to military servicemembers including: (1) prohibiting employers from discriminating against military service members with respect to hiring, discharge, and other terms and conditions of employment; (2) guaranteeing certain reemployment rights for service members deployed for less than five years; and (3) prohibiting retaliation against employees who assert their USERRA rights.

USERRA complaints are initially filed with the United States Department of Labor. The Department of Labor investigates such complaints, determines whether they have merit, and attempts to voluntarily resolve complaints it determines have merit. If the Department of Labor does not resolve a complaint, regardless of whether it determines the complaint to have merit, it will refer the complaint to the Employment Litigation Section upon the request of the servicemember who filed the complaint. When the Employment Litigation Section receives an unresolved USERRA complaint from the Department of Labor, the Section reviews the Department of Labor’s investigative file accompanying the complaint to determine whether to extend representation to the complainant.

USERRA provides that the Attorney General, through the Employment Litigation Section, may represent a claimant in federal district court if he or she determines that the claimant is entitled to the rights or benefits being sought. In USERRA suits involving local government and private employers, the Attorney General is authorized by statute to provide direct legal representation to individuals by filing a lawsuit on the individual’s behalf. In USERRA suits involving state government employers, the Attorney General may file suit in the name of the United States to recover relief that benefits the complainant. 

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a potential USERRA violation, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Employment Litigation Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Employment Litigation Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[updated March 2018]


8-2.214 - Employment Litigation Section—Defensive Suits

The Employment Litigation Section defends suits in which a federal contractor, subcontractor or grantee sues the relevant federal agency to enjoin the actual or threatened termination or suspension of federal contracts or funds under Executive Order 11246. The Employment Litigation Section also defends actions that challenge the constitutionality of congressionally authorized preference programs under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program, 15 U.S.C. § 637(a), and other minority and disadvantaged business enterprise programs.

When a United States Attorney’s Office becomes aware of a suit against a federal agency to enjoin the actual or threatened termination or suspension of federal contracts or funds under Executive Order 11246, that office should immediately forward the complaint or other information to the Employment Litigation Section.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.220 - Educational Opportunities Section

The Educational Opportunities Section enforces federal civil rights statutes that prohibit public and private schools, local education agencies, and state education agencies from engaging in discriminatory practices. The Educational Opportunities Section’s work covers a variety of legal issues involving elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. The laws for which the Educational Opportunities Section has primary responsibility include Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000c-6, and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1706 to 1710. The Section also enforces Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act with respect to students enrolled in public educational institutions (see JM 8-2.400). Finally, the Section enforces Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (see JM 8-2.241); Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (see JM 8-2.400) against federal funding recipients. When a United States Attorney’s Office receives Title VI, Title IX, or Section 504 allegations involving an educational institution, that office should contact the Educational Opportunities Section as soon as practicable.

Additionally, the Section litigates a large number of cases in which it challenges practices of school districts that result in illegal student segregation on the basis of race or color. Many of these cases arose out of the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which mandates that public school officials not assign students to schools and classes on a racial basis, or deny students equal educational opportunity on the basis of race or color.  

[updated March 2018]


8-2.221 - Educational Opportunities Litigation Section—Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000c, the Attorney General is authorized, when certain statutory conditions are met, to institute a lawsuit against public school boards, public colleges and universities, and others upon receiving a complaint of discrimination or segregation. The complaint must be in writing and signed by a parent or group of parents or, in the case of colleges or universities, by the person aggrieved. The complaint should contain a statement to the effect that the school board is depriving children of the equal protection of the laws, or, if it is a college-level complaint, that the complainant has been denied admission or not permitted to continue attending a public college by reason of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. Complainants should be advised of these requirements.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a potential violation of Title IV, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Educational Opportunities Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Educational Opportunities Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[updated March 2018]


8-2.222 - Educational Opportunities Litigation Section—The Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974

The Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA), 20 U.S.C. §§ 1701 to 1758, authorizes the Attorney General to institute public school desegregation suits against local and state education agencies. Local education agencies include public schools and school districts. State education agencies include state departments and boards of education. The segregative acts of state and local education agencies that deny students equal educational opportunity are specifically described in the EEOA, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1703(a) to (e). In addition, the Attorney General may file a civil action on behalf of any individual denied equal educational opportunity when state or local education agencies fail to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers, 20 U.S.C. § 1703(f).  

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a potential EEOA violation, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Educational Opportunities Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Educational Opportunities Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[updated March 2018]



8-2.230 - Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

The Housing and Civil Enforcement Section is responsible for the enforcement of federal statutes that: (1) ban discrimination in housing, credit, and access to places of public accommodation and public facilities; (2) prohibit discriminatory or unjustifiably burdensome enforcement of land use regulations against houses of worship or other religious assemblies; and (3) provide various civil protections for servicemembers. The primary statutes that the Section enforces are the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 to 3619); the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1691 to 1691f); Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. §§ 2000a to 2000a-6); Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. §§ 2000b to 2000b-3); the land use provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc to 2000cc-5); and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. §§ 3901-4043). The Housing and Civil Enforcement Section is also responsible for enforcing two statutes that prohibit discrimination in programs receiving federal funds: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d to 2000d-7), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in federally funded programs (see JM 8-2.240); and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 794), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in federally funded programs (see JM 8-2.400).

[updated March 2018]


8-2.231 - Housing and Civil Enforcement Section—Fair Housing Act

The Housing and Civil Enforcement Section has primary responsibility for investigating alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act and bringing suit to enforce the statute. The Fair Housing Act forbids discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status (families with children under age 18), national origin, or disability in the sale, rental, advertising, or financing of housing. Practices forbidden by the Fair Housing Act include not only the direct refusal to sell, rent, or finance, but also more sophisticated forms of discrimination such as blockbusting, racial steering, redlining, discriminating in zoning or land-use decisions, and providing false information about housing availability. In addition, with respect to individuals with disabilities, discrimination includes the refusal to permit the reasonable modification of existing premises to make them accessible and the refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services. Finally, the statute requires that most multifamily dwellings constructed for initial occupancy after March 1991 be accessible to persons with disabilities.

  1. HUD Referrals. The Department of Justice and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) share enforcement responsibility with respect to individual claims brought under the Fair Housing Act.

HUD is authorized to receive and investigate individual complaints of discrimination and to attempt to obtain voluntary compliance with the Fair Housing Act through conciliation. In the event that the conciliation process fails, HUD may, upon finding reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred, issue administrative charges alleging a Fair Housing Act violation. After HUD issues a charge, the matter can proceed in one of two ways: (1) HUD conciliates the complaint or litigates the complaint to judgment before an administrative law judge; or (2) one of the parties to the administrative charge “elects” to have the case heard in federal court, in which case the Attorney General, acting through the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, is required to initiate and maintain a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the complainant. These suits by the Civil Rights Division on behalf of complainants are often referred to as “election” cases.

Additionally, under the Fair Housing Act, HUD is required to refer to the Attorney General (1) any complaint that involves the legality of a state or local zoning or other land use law or ordinance, 42 U.S.C. § 3614(b)(1); (2) any breach of a HUD conciliation agreement, 42 U.S.C § 3614(b)(2); (3) requests by the Secretary of HUD to enforce HUD subpoenas in federal district court, 42 U.S.C. § 3614(c); and (4) an authorization by the Secretary of HUD to file a civil action for temporary or preliminary relief relating to Fair Housing Act complaint pending with HUD, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(e)(1). 

Finally, in conjunction with the Civil Rights Division Appellate Section, the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section has responsibility for the enforcement of orders entered by HUD administrative law judges in Fair Housing Act cases, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(j).  United States Attorney’s Offices, in coordination with the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, also have responsibility for seeking collection of monetary judgments, when necessary. The United States Attorney’s Offices also have responsibility for enforcing administrative subpoenas issued by HUD under Section 811 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3611. HUD will either refer these matters directly to the relevant United States Attorney’s Office or to the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section.

The Housing and Civil Enforcement Section operates the United States Attorneys’ Fair Housing Program, which assists United States Attorney’s Offices that are handling Fair Housing Act “election” cases and provides guidance on enforcing the Fair Housing Act. Because the Civil Rights Division has an interest in maintaining consistent policies and precedent nationwide, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains the final authority to determine what cases to file and settle, even when such cases are assigned to the United States Attorney’s Offices. 

  1. “Pattern or Practice” and “Group of Persons” Cases. The Attorney General also has authority to file certain types of Fair Housing Act cases without receiving a referral from HUD. Specifically, the Attorney General may file a civil action to enforce the statute when he or she has reasonable cause to believe (1) that a person or group of persons is engaged in a “pattern or practice” of unlawful discrimination, or (2) that a “group of persons” has been denied rights under the statute and such denial raises an issue of general public importance.  42 U.S.C. § 3614(a). The Housing and Civil Enforcement Section works with United States Attorney’s Offices to investigate and litigate these pattern-or-practice and group-of-persons cases.    
     

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination or the discriminatory denial of Fair Housing Act rights to any group of persons, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section as soon as practicable. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section may work together, either jointly or in a more limited role, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Interference with Housing Rights. The use of force or threats of force to interfere with fair housing rights may violate the criminal prohibitions of 42 U.S.C. § 3631 as well as the civil provisions of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3617. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, in consultation with the United States Attorney, will determine whether to proceed with a civil action. Criminal prosecutions under 42 U.S.C. § 3631 are supervised, supported, and coordinated as appropriate by the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division. See JM 8-3.000.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.232 - Housing and Civil Enforcement Section—Equal Credit Opportunity Act

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) forbids discrimination in the extension of credit based on race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, age, a credit applicant’s receipt of public assistance, or a credit applicant’s exercise of rights under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.

Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Attorney General is authorized to sue for injunctive and monetary relief upon a finding of a pattern or practice of credit discrimination or when a case is referred by a federal regulatory agency. This authority has been assigned to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act requires that the Federal Bank Regulatory Agencies (including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) refer matters to the Department of Justice when they have reason to believe that a lender they supervise is engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. The Federal Bank Regulatory agencies have administrative enforcement authority under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. The Department of Justice, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Federal Trade Commission have judicial enforcement authority. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act also provides for private suits.  

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a potential violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[updated March 2018]


8-2.233 - Housing and Civil Enforcement Section—Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000a to 2000a-6, prohibits discrimination on account of race, color, religion, or national origin in places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants, and theaters. The Civil Rights Act authorizes the Attorney General to bring a civil action to address a pattern or practice of Title II violations. Under Title II, the United States can pursue only injunctive relief. The statute does not authorize the Attorney General to pursue individual complaints of discrimination in the area of public accommodations, but individuals may pursue such claims privately under Title II and under other civil rights statutes. When an individual files a Title II action, the statute authorizes the Attorney General, in the discretion of the court, to intervene if the Attorney General certifies that the case is of general public importance.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a potential violation of Title II, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened, or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The Attorney General must sign Title II complaints. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[updated March 2018]


8-2.234 - Housing and Civil Enforcement Section—Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000b to 2000b-3, prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin in public facilities, such as parks, libraries, auditoriums, and prisons. Title III authorizes the Attorney General to institute a civil suit upon receipt of a written, signed complaint if the Attorney General believes that the complaint is meritorious, and certifies that the complainants are unable to initiate and maintain appropriate legal proceedings for relief and that filing the action will materially further the orderly progress of desegregation in public facilities. The Housing and Civil Enforcement Section has primary responsibility for enforcing Title III. The Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division, however, is responsible for Title III matters where the public facility at issue is covered by the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (e.g., a state-run nursing home), the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (e.g., a state prison), or where the alleged discrimination is caused by the conduct of a law enforcement agency (e.g., a local police department).

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a potential violation of Title III, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[added March 2018]


8-2.235 - Housing and Civil Enforcement Section—Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc to 2000cc-5, protects individuals, houses of worship, and other religious institutions from discriminatory or unduly burdensome zoning and other land use laws. The Attorney General is authorized to investigate alleged RLUIPA violations and bring lawsuits to enforce the statute. This authority has been assigned to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. The Housing and Civil Enforcement Section enforces the religious land use provisions of RLUIPA, which provide for injunctive or declaratory relief. Individuals, houses of worship, and other religious institutions can also bring lawsuits in federal or state court to enforce RLUIPA.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a violation of the religious land use provisions of RLUIPA, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

NOTE: The Special Litigation Section handles the Department of Justice’s enforcement of RLUIPA’s institutionalized persons provisions (see JM 8-2.266). 

[added March 2018]


8-2.236 - Housing and Civil Enforcement Section—Servicemembers

Civil Relief Act

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003, 50 U.S.C. §§ 3901 to 4043, provides protections for military members as they enter active duty. The statute’s protections extend to rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, eviction, installment contracts, credit-card interest rates, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosure, civil judicial proceedings, automobile leases, life insurance, health insurance, and income tax payments. The Attorney General is authorized to investigate alleged SCRA violations and bring lawsuits to enforce the statute. This authority has been assigned to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. The Department of Justice can obtain monetary damages for aggrieved persons, civil penalties, and equitable relief. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act also provides a private right of action to aggrieved individuals.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[added March 2018]


8-2.240 - Federal Coordination and Compliance Section

The Federal Coordination and Compliance Section has two principal responsibilities. First, the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section has staff responsibility for coordinating and ensuring consistent and effective enforcement by all executive agencies of laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or religion by recipients of federal financial assistance. Recipients include state and local governments (and agencies and departments thereof, such as police, departments of corrections, courts and others), corporations, partnerships, and individuals. The Federal Coordination and Compliance Section also coordinates compliance with various executive orders seeking to ensure that the federal government itself does not discriminate in programs and activities of federal agencies. (Note that responsibility for coordination and leadership regarding discrimination based on disability is provided by the Civil Rights Division’s Disability Rights Section.)

Second, the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section investigates allegations of discrimination based on race, color, national origin (including limited English proficiency), sex, or religion against recipients receiving financial assistance from the Department of Justice.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.241 - Federal Coordination and Compliance Section—Non-Discrimination by Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance

The Federal Coordination and Compliance Section coordinates federal efforts to implement and enforce various laws prohibiting discrimination by recipients of federal financial assistance. Among these laws are Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d to 2000d-7, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin; and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 to 1688, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. In addition, many program-specific statutes (such as the Safe Streets Act, 34 U.S.C. § 10228(c)) include their own non-discrimination provisions that apply to recipients of federal financial assistance. Each of these statutes has implementing regulations that help define statutory obligations and rights and set forth enforcement procedures. The regulations authorize the administrative agencies to enforce the statutes in several ways, including by referrals to the Civil Rights Division. 

The Federal Coordination and Compliance Section investigates complaints alleging that recipients of federal financial assistance from the Department of Justice engaged in discrimination, primarily on the basis of race, color, national origin, and sex, in violation of Title VI or Title IX. These investigations are undertaken pursuant to Memoranda of Understanding and other agreements with Department of Justice funding components, such as the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Criminal Division (MLARS) and the Office of Justice Programs. Department of Justice funding recipients include state and local law enforcement agencies, state departments of corrections, and courts. In carrying out this responsibility, the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section works closely with the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation and Criminal Sections, as well as the Office of Justice Programs.

United States Attorney’s Offices do not have independent authority to enforce Titles VI and IX, but can and have partnered with the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, other Civil Rights Division Sections, and other agencies on investigations and resolutions, which are often achieved through voluntary compliance on the part of the recipient. Any United States Attorney’s Offices that receives Title VI or Title IX allegations should contact the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section as soon as practicable to discuss the most effective way to proceed.

NOTE: Title VI and Title IX do not apply to the programs and activities of federal agencies. The Department of Justice will move to dismiss any lawsuits against the federal government for alleged violations of these statutes.

[added March 2018]


8-2.242 - Federal Coordination and Compliance SectionNon-discrimination by Federal Agencies under Executive Orders 13166 and 13160

The Federal Coordination and Compliance Section also plays a central role in coordinating compliance with Executive Order 13166, which relates to access by limited English proficiency (LEP) individuals to federal government services, and Executive Order 13160, which prohibits discrimination on a number of bases in federally conducted education and training programs.

Executive Order 13166 requires federal agencies to examine the extent to which their own programs and activities are accessible to LEP individuals who may be eligible for the services and benefits the agencies provide. The Department of Justice has responded to the Executive Order by implementing an LEP plan covering its federally conducted activities, available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/cor/lep/dojimp.htm. This Executive Order affects individuals in United States Attorney’s Offices, including witnesses with whom the United States Attorney’s Office may interact as well as outreach that United States Attorney’s Offices conduct with community groups. Additionally, United States Attorney’s Offices may be the first to learn about language access problems related to the activities of other federal agencies in their districts since many federal agencies have field offices or conduct enforcement activity in jurisdictions across the country. 

Like Executive Order 13166, Executive Order 13160 reaches federally conducted programs and activities. Specifically, Executive Order 13160 prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, color, national origin, disability, religion, age, sexual orientation, and status as a parent in federally conducted education and training programs and activities. Executive Order 13160 covers all training programs conducted by the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, such as those at the National Advocacy Center, or by individual United States Attorney’s Offices. As with Executive Order 13166, United States Attorney’s Offices may be the first to hear about issues relating to federally provided educational or training programs that run afoul of Executive Order 13160.

Though both Executive Order 13166 and Executive Order 13160 apply to federal agency conduct, neither Executive Order creates a private right of action enforceable at law against the United

States. Executive Order 13160 does, however, provide for administrative enforcement by individual agencies receiving complaints alleging discrimination in agency-conducted education and training programs.

[added March 2018]


8-2.250 - Civil Laws Governing Law Enforcement Misconduct

The Department, acting principally through the Civil Rights Division, is authorized under several civil statutes to investigate misconduct by law enforcement officers. These statutes include:

  • Section 210401 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 34 U.S.C. § 12601 (formerly codified as 42 US.C. § 14141), which authorizes the Department to file suit challenging a pattern or practice of misconduct by law enforcement officers or by officials or employees of any governmental agency with responsibility for the administration of juvenile justice or the incarceration of juveniles that deprives persons of constitutional or federal statutory rights (see JM 8-2.262);
  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d to 2000d-7 (see JM 8-2.241); and
  • Section 809(c) of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 34 U.S.C. § 10228(c), which prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance granted from the Department of Justice (including law enforcement agencies) from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or religion, and is enforced through voluntary compliance efforts, administrative proceedings, and litigation.

Responsibility for enforcement of these statutes within the Civil Rights Division generally resides with the Special Litigation Section and the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section. The Special Litigation Section handles enforcement of Section 12601, as well as Title VI and the Safe Streets Act as those statutes relate to the conduct of law enforcement agencies, and the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section handles administrative enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. These Sections coordinate their police misconduct work with the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section and the Department of Justice’s fund-granting components, including the Office of Justice Programs and the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Criminal Division.

[added March 2018]


8-2.260 - Special Litigation Section

The Special Litigation Section protects civil rights in the following areas: (1) the rights of people in state or local institutions, including jails, prisons, juvenile detention facilities, and health care facilities for persons with disabilities; (2) the rights of people who interact with state or local law enforcement agencies; (3) the rights of people to have safe access to reproductive health care clinics; and (4) the rights of people to practice their religion while confined to state and local institutions.  The Special Litigation Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting cases under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1997 to 1997j; Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, 18 U.S.C. § 248; Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, 34 U.S.C. § 10228; the institutionalized persons provision of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc-1 to 2000cc-5; Section 210401 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 34 U.S.C. § 12601 (see JM 8-2.262); Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as it relates to public facilities covered by CRIPA and RLUIPA and to the conduct of law enforcement agencies in public facilities; and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 USC §§ 12132 et seq. (see JM 8-2.400).

[updated March 2018]


8-2.261 - Special Litigation Section—Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons

The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1997 to 1997j, authorizes the Attorney General to enforce the constitutional and federal statutory rights of persons confined to institutions owned, operated, or managed by a state or local government. These institutions include, among others, state-run hospitals and nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities for persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities, prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities. To initiate suit under CRIPA, the Attorney General must have reasonable cause to believe that the deprivation of rights is part of a pattern or practice of denial of constitutional or, in some cases, federal statutory rights. 

The investigations and litigation focus on a broad range of issues depending on the type of institution and the nature of the alleged deprivation of rights. Issues may include, for example, physical and sexual abuse, medical and mental health care, fire safety, sanitation, security, adequacy of treatment and training, and education.

At the time of commencing a civil action under CRIPA, the Attorney General must personally certify to the court that (1) the Attorney General has previously notified, in writing, the appropriate state or local officials of the alleged conditions that deprive statutory or constitutional rights, the supporting facts giving rise to the alleged conditions, and the minimum measures that may remedy the alleged conditions and the alleged pattern or practice; (2) the Attorney General has notified, in writing, the appropriate state official of the Attorney General’s intent to conduct an investigation of the state or local institution and that the Attorney General has made a good faith effort to consult with the appropriate state officials to advise them of federal assistance that may be available, encouraged the appropriate state official to correct the alleged conditions and pattern or practice through informal, voluntary methods, and that the appropriate officials have had reasonable time to take appropriate corrective actions; and (3) the action is of general public importance and will materially further the vindication of federal rights.

CRIPA also authorizes the Attorney General to intervene in any action commenced in any court of the United States seeking relief from conditions depriving persons in state or local institutions of their federal rights when the Attorney General has reason to believe that such deprivation is pursuant to a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of such rights, privileges, or immunities.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a violation of CRIPA, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Special Litigation Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether an investigation should be opened or a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The Attorney General must sign CRIPA complaints. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Special Litigation Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis.  (See JM 8-2.140).

[updated March 2018] 


8-2.262 - Special Litigation SectionLaw Enforcement Misconduct (Section 12601)

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 34 U.S.C. § 12601, authorizes the Attorney General to seek equitable and declaratory relief to eliminate a pattern or practice of illegal conduct by law enforcement agencies. Investigations involving law enforcement agencies cover a broad range of issues, but may include, for example, unreasonable use of force, unlawful searches and seizures, discriminatory policing, and conditions in holding cell facilities.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting potential law enforcement misconduct, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Special Litigation Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Special Litigation Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[added March 2018]


8-2.263 - Special Litigation SectionJuvenile Justice (Section 12601 and CRIPA)

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 34 U.S.C. § 12601, authorizes the Attorney General to seek equitable and declaratory relief to eliminate a pattern or practice of illegal conduct by agencies responsible for the administration of juvenile justice or the incarceration of juveniles. Investigations involving the administration of juvenile justice address issues in the delinquency process, including actions that undermine key due process protections, equal protection, and other constitutional safeguards in juvenile proceedings. Investigations involving the incarceration of juveniles cover an array of issues in the operation of juvenile justice facilities, including abuse, crowding, medical and mental health care, fire safety, sanitation, security, adequacy of treatment and training, and education. This enforcement authority with respect to juvenile facilities supplements the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1997 to 1997j, which also covers juvenile facilities.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a violation of CRIPA or Section 12601, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Special Litigation Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The Attorney General must sign the complaint if it alleges a CRIPA violation. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Special Litigation Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-

[added March 2018]


8-2.264 - Special Litigation SectionTitle III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

As discussed in greater detail Section 8-2.234, Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000b, prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin in public facilities. The Special Litigation Section supervises the enforcement of Title III as it relates to public facilities covered by the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1997 to 1997j, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, and to the conduct of law enforcement agencies in public facilities.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a potential pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of Title III in public facilities, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Special Litigation Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Special Litigation Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[updated March 2018] 


8-2.265 - Special Litigation Section—Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act

The use of force or threats of force, physical obstruction, or property damage with the intent to injure, intimidate, or interfere with a person seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services violates the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, 18 U.S.C. § 248. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act also contains a provision barring such conduct with the intent to injure, intimidate, or interfere with a person seeking to exercise religious freedom at a place of religious worship. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act does not prohibit speech or expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

 When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information suggesting a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Special Litigation Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Special Litigation Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[added March 2018]


8-2.266 - Special Litigation SectionReligious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act

The Special Litigation Section enforces Section 3 of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, which protects the right to free exercise of religion for institutionalized persons. In particular, the Special Litigation Section is authorized to investigate and bring civil actions for injunctive relief to enforce compliance with Section 3 of RLUIPA. Violations of RLUIPA need not rise to the level of a pattern or practice to be actionable.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information regarding the free exercise of religion by an institutionalized person or persons, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Special Litigation Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Special Litigation Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[added March 2018]


8-2.270 - Voting Section—Overview

The Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division has enforcement responsibility for certain civil provisions of federal laws that protect the right to vote. This includes provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 52 U.S.C. §§ 10301 to 10702; Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984, 52 U.S.C. §§ 20101 to 20107; Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986, 52 U.S.C. §§ 20301 to 20311; National Voter Registration Act of 1993, 52 U.S.C. §§ 20501 to 20511; Help America Vote Act of 2002, 52 U.S.C. §§ 21081 to 21085, 21111; and the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, 52 U.S.C. §§ 10101, 20701 to 20706. 

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information regarding the possibility of infringements of the right to vote, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Voting Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Voting Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[updated March 2018]


8-2.271 - Voting Section—Voting Rights Act

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 contains a number of protections of the right to vote, 52 U.S.C. §§ 10301 to 10702, as do the earlier the Civil Rights Acts, 52 U.S.C. §§ 10101, 20701 to 20706.  Specifically, the Voting Rights Act:

  • extends a nationwide prohibition on voting practices by states and local jurisdictions that have the purpose or result of denying or abridging the right of any citizen to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a protected language minority group; 
  • protects the ability of voters who need assistance in voting due to blindness, disability, or inability to read or write to receive assistance from a person of the voter’s choice (other than a representative of the voter’s employer or union); 
  • requires certain covered jurisdictions to provide election materials in one or more languages in addition to English so that citizens who are members of covered language minority groups can participate effectively in the electoral process;
  • prohibits any person acting under color of law from denying eligible persons the right to vote or failing or refusing to count their votes; 
  • prohibits intimidation, threats, or coercion of persons for voting or attempting to vote, or for urging or aiding a person to vote or attempt to vote; 
  • prohibits jurisdictions from denying the right to vote based on tests or devices, such as literacy tests, understanding tests, educational achievement requirements, moral character requirements, and requirements that registrants prove their qualifications by having other persons vouch for them; 
  • authorizes time-limited relief in certain cases for federal observers to monitor elections or for courts or the Department of Justice to review changes in election procedures; and
  • authorizes civil actions against the imposition of a poll tax and certain durational residency requirements in presidential elections, and to enforce the Twenty-sixth Amendment, which prohibits the denial of the right to vote on account of age of anyone over the age of 18.

[added March 2018]


8-2.272 - Voting Section—Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act

The Voting Section enforces the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 (VAEHA), which requires accessible polling places in elections for federal office for elderly individuals and persons with disabilities, 52 U.S.C. §§ 20101 to 20107. Where no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place, voters must be provided an alternative means of voting on Election Day.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information regarding a potential VAEHA violation, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Voting Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Voting Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[added March 2018]


8-2.273 - Voting Section—Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act

The Voting Section enforces the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986, which requires that states and territories make sure that active duty members of our uniformed services who are serving away from home, their families, and United States citizens who are residing overseas can register and vote absentee in all elections for federal offices, 52 U.S.C. §§ 20301 to 20311. These voters can use a Federal Post Card Application to register to vote and request an absentee ballot simultaneously from elections officials. They can also use a “back-up” ballot, called the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, to vote in federal general elections if they applied for, but have not received, their absentee ballot from elections officials. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act requires that elections officials transmit absentee ballots to eligible voters 45 days before an election for federal office where they have requested such ballots by that date. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act also requires election officials to provide eligible voters with an option to request and receive voter registration and absentee ballot applications by electronic transmissions, and to have options for eligible voters to receive blank absentee ballots by electronic transmission.  

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information regarding the possibility of a Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act violation, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Voting Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Voting Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[added March 2018]


8-2.274 - Voting Section—National Voter Registration Act

The Voting Section enforces the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, 52 U.S.C. §§ 20501 to 20511, which established certain required voter registration procedures for elections for federal office. The National Voter Registration Act provides for voter registration to be available in connection with drivers’ license applications, provides for mail-in voter registration, and provides that states must designate certain agencies such as public assistance and disability services offices as voter registration agencies. The National Voter Registration Act contains requirements with respect to administration of voter registration by states, including requiring states to implement procedures to maintain accurate and current voting rolls. The National Voter Registration Act regulates the removal of voters from the voting rolls due to change of residence by providing procedural safeguards and prohibits removals based solely on failure to vote. The National Voter Registration Act requires United States Attorney’s Offices to share written notice of federal felony criminal convictions to state election officials.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information regarding the possibility of a National Voter Registration Act violation, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Voting Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Voting Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[added March 2018]


8-2.275 - Voting Section—Help America Vote Act

The Voting Section enforces the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), 52 U.S.C. §§ 21081 to 21085, 21111, which establishes minimum standards for states to follow in several key areas of election administration in elections for federal office. The Attorney General has the authority to enforce the minimum standards in the Help America Vote Act that govern voting systems, provisional ballots, posting of voting information, requirements for first time registrants by mail, and centralized statewide voter registration databases.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information regarding the possibility of a Help America Vote Act violation, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Voting Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Voting Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

[added March 2018


8-2.400 - Disability Rights Section

The Disability Rights Section administers and enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., coordinates enforcement of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794(a), and enforces the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000ff et seq. The Special Litigation and Educational Opportunities Sections of the Civil Rights Division also enforce Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act under certain circumstances.

The Americans with Disabilities Act comprises three titles: Titles I, II, and III. The Disability Rights Section investigates and litigates cases under all three Titles. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates allegations of discrimination on the basis of disability by state or local government employers under Title I. The EEOC may refer those cases to the Disability Rights Section for litigation if appropriate. The EEOC retains Title I matters for litigation that involve private employers. The Title I remedies and enforcement procedures are substantially the same as those provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-4, 2000e-5, 2000e-6, 2000e-8, 2000e-9, as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and include injunctive relief and compensatory damages with certain prescribed limits. Punitive damages are not available against public employers.

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the provision of all programs, activities, and services of state and local governmental entities, including the provision of public transportation. The Title II remedies and procedures parallel those available under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794a.

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations, commercial facilities, and entities that offer courses or examinations related to professional or educational certifications. The remedies available under Title III in litigation initiated by the Attorney General include injunctive relief, compensatory damages, and civil penalties of up to $90,535 for a first violation and up to $181,071 for any subsequent violation. Civil penalty amounts are periodically adjusted for inflation, and the current maximums can be found at 28 C.F.R. § 85.5.

The Disability Rights Section promulgates regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 504 prohibits disability discrimination in federally conducted programs or activities, as well as programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. The Disability Rights Section also coordinates implementation of these laws by federal agencies. The Disability Rights Section’s coordination authority under Section 504, established by Executive Order 12250, includes review and approval of federal agencies’ regulations and significant policy guidance regarding Section 504. Finally, the Disability Rights Section also coordinates and provides technical assistance to covered entities and people with disabilities on the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The statute, relevant regulations, and technical assistance materials regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act are available at the website hosted by the Disability Rights Section, www.ada.gov, under the headings “Law/Regulations” and “Technical Assistance Materials.” 

[updated March 2018]


8-2.410 - Disability Rights Section—United States Attorney Program for Americans with Disabilities Act Enforcement

The Disability Rights Section runs the Civil Rights Division’s United States Attorney Program for Americans with Disabilities Act Enforcement. Through that program, the Disability Rights Section refers individual complaints alleging Americans with Disabilities Act violations to participating United States Attorney’s Offices, and works with Assistant United States Attorneys assigned to the matters in all aspects of the enforcement effort, from investigation to resolution, and through all litigation stages. Because the Civil Rights Division has an interest in maintaining consistent policies and precedent nationwide, all substantive resolutions must be reviewed and approved by the Special Legal Counsel for the United States Attorney Program for Americans with Disabilities Act Enforcement. Requests for litigation authority must be submitted to the Section Chief of the Disability Rights Section and approved by the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or other information regarding the possibility of discrimination based on disability, that office should forward the complaint or other information to the Disability Rights Section as soon as practicable. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or, in most instances, a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Disability Rights Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

NOTE: United States Attorneys should coordinate the positions taken by the Department of Justice as a defendant in cases involving allegations of disability discrimination with the positions taken in the Department of Justice’s affirmative disability rights litigation, and other defensive litigation handled by the Civil Division. When a United States Attorney’s Office becomes aware of such a case, that office must contact both the Disability Rights Section and the Civil Division as soon as practicable.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.500 - Immigrant and Employee Rights Section 

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section investigates and prosecutes cases of employment discrimination under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits private and public sector employers from (1) discriminating in hiring, firing or recruiting because of citizenship or immigration status; (2) discriminating in hiring, firing or recruiting because of national origin (by employers that fall outside of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964); (3) engaging in unfair documentary practices (i.e., employers requesting more or different documentation than necessary to prove work authorization, or rejecting documents that reasonably appear to be genuine, because of citizenship, immigration status, or national origin); and (4) retaliating against individuals for exercising their rights under the provision. 

 

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision, injured parties may file charges with the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section. The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section is responsible for investigating such charges and litigating such claims. The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section also initiates independent investigations based on information it may obtain from a variety of sources, including charge referrals from other government agencies, or information from United States Attorney’s Offices. These independent investigations usually involve allegations of a pattern or practice of discrimination.

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section litigates all of its cases before specially designated Administrative Law Judges in the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, which is based in Falls Church, Virginia. Final decisions and subpoenas issued by an Administrative Law Judge are enforceable in United States District Courts. Appeals from those decisions are taken directly to the United States Circuit Courts of Appeal. The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section coordinates all district court actions or appearances with the appropriate United States Attorney’s Office. 

When a United States Attorney’s Office receives a complaint or information falling under the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section’s jurisdiction, that office should forward the complaint or information to the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section as soon as practicable. The Civil Rights Division retains final authority to determine whether a civil rights investigation should be opened; a complaint should be filed; or a case should be settled, and on what terms. The Civil Rights Division may delegate this authority to subordinate Civil Rights Division officials and United States Attorneys, where appropriate. The United States Attorney’s Office and the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section may work together, as appropriate, on these investigations and any resulting litigation. Division of responsibilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

Assistant United States Attorneys should also contact the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section for technical assistance in cases involving sanctions by employers that could raise discrimination concerns under the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, including seeking assistance in determining whether terms in a non-prosecution or settlement agreement could inadvertently lead to a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision.

[updated March 2018]


8-2.601- Immigrant and Employee Rights Section—Jurisdiction Under the Immigration and Nationality Act

Under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1324b, the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section has jurisdiction over citizenship or immigration status discrimination claims involving employers with four or more employees with respect to hiring, firing, and recruitment or referral for a fee. Citizenship status includes a person’s immigration status. United States citizens, many recent lawful permanent residents, asylees, and refugees are protected from citizenship status discrimination. However, an employer that engages in citizenship status discrimination to comply with a law, regulation, executive order, or government contract is exempt from this provision.

The Immigration and Nationality Act also prohibits national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, recruitment or referral for a fee. The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section has jurisdiction over national origin discrimination claims involving employers with more than 3 and fewer than 15 employees. National origin can include one’s place of birth, country of origin, ancestry, native language, accent, or “foreign” appearance. All work-authorized individuals are protected from national origin discrimination under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Moreover, the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section has jurisdiction to address national origin discrimination that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, does not cover either because of Title VII’s employer size requirement or because Title VII does not include a cause of action for a type of national origin discrimination covered by the Immigration and Nationality Act’s antidiscrimination provision (e.g., unfair documentary practices based on national origin, as described below).

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section also has jurisdiction over claims of unfair documentary practices (formerly referred to as “document abuse”) related to verifying the employment eligibility of employees. Employers may not request more or different documents than are required to verify employment eligibility, reject reasonably genuine-looking documents, or specify certain documents over others with the purpose or intent of discriminating on the basis of citizenship status or national origin. This violation typically takes place when employers complete the Form I-9 and, for E-Verify users, run a worker through E-Verify.

Finally, the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section has jurisdiction over claims of retaliation under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision. Individuals who file charges with the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, who cooperate with an Immigrant and Employee Rights Section investigation, who contest actions that may constitute unfair immigration related employment practices, or who otherwise assert their rights under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision are protected from retaliation, intimidation, coercion, and threats.

[added March 2018]

Updated September 19, 2018