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Civil Rights Enforcement

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island has established a Civil Rights Program to enforce federal civil rights statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, religion, familial status, and national origin. In addition, the office protects the rights of servicemembers and veterans.  

Working to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Rhode Island residents, the U.S. Attorney’s Office works with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to stop discrimination in housing, employment, education, credit, public accommodations, voting, state and local government programs, and certain federally funded and conducted programs. In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is responsible for investigating and prosecuting criminal civil rights offenses, such as hate crimes, damage to religious property, misconduct by law enforcement, human trafficking, and criminal interference with persons obtaining reproductive health services. 

Working to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Rhode Island residents, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Rhode Island, in coordination with the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, is responsible for enforcing Civil and Criminal Civil Rights Enforcement Statutes in Rhode Island, both through civil litigation and criminal prosecution. Through litigation, the Office enforces, among others, the following statutes:

  1. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  2. Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Other Statutes Prohibiting Housing Discrimination
  3. Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA) and Other Statutes Prohibiting Employment Discrimination
  4. Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE)
  5. Violent Crime Control and LawEenforcement Act of 1994 ("Section 14141") and Other Statutes Prohibiting Law Enforcement Misconduct
  6. Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA)

The Criminal Division prosecutes violations of criminal civil rights laws, including laws prohibiting hate crimes and the use of unreasonable force by those acting under color of law. The FBI is the primary federal law enforcement agency responsible for investigating allegations regarding violations of federal civil rights statutes.

The Office welcomes information from the public that brings to our attention possible violations of our nation's civil rights laws. At the same time, while the scope of our civil rights practice is broad, the authority of the United States Department of Justice to investigate and seek relief for individual complaining parties for alleged civil rights violations is limited. We may investigate and seek to remedy alleged discriminatory conduct only where and in the manner specifically authorized by law. For example, the Office has authority to investigate and seek to remedy patterns and practices of certain unlawful discriminatory conduct, but we generally do not have the authority to represent individuals in their pursuit of private civil rights claims.

Additionally, when the Office handles individual civil rights cases, it is most often only after they have been investigated and referred to us by another federal agency, such as the following:

  1. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (for employment discrimination)
  2. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (for housing discrimination)
  3. United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (for discrimination in education)
  4. United States Department of Labor (for violations of USERRA)
  5. Office of Special Counsel (for immigration related unfair employment practices)

If you have information concerning a potential violation of the federal civil rights laws that you wish to bring to our attention, please go to the Dept. of Justice How to File a Complaint website and follow the instructions.  Alternatively, you may complete the Civil Rights Complaint Form or the Civil Rights Complaint Form - Spanish version and email, fax, or mail it to the attention of the Civil Rights Coordinator at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island.

Email: usari.civilrightscomplaint@usdoj.gov

Fax: (401) 709-5001

Mail:
Civil Rights Coordinator
United States Attorney’s Office
50 Kennedy Plaza, 8th Floor
Providence, RI 02903

Updated November 21, 2016