Title VI FAQs

What does Title VI prohibit?
  • Prohibits entities from denying an individual any service, financial aid, or benefits.
  • Prohibits entities from providing any service or other benefit to an individual which is different, or is provided in a different manner from that provided to others.
  • Prohibits segregation or separate treatment in any manner related to receiving program services or benefits.
  • Prohibits entities from requiring different standards or conditions as prerequisites for serving individuals.
  • Prohibits entities from denying a person the opportunity to participate as a member of planning or advisory body, which is an integral part of the program.
  • Prohibits discriminatory activity in a facility built in whole or in part with Federal funds.
  • Prohibits locating facilities in any way that would limit or impede access to a federally funded service or benefit.
Who are considered “persons” under Title VI?
One may assume that “persons” is not limited to U.S. citizens. In other words, "persons" may include individuals who are non-U.S. citizens. See Plyer v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982); Mathews v. Diaz, 426 U.S. 67 (1976). Rights protected by Title VI are analogous to such protections under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, and U.S. Supreme Court cases provide persuasive authority to the scope of “persons” protected by Title VI.
Does Federal financial assistance include more than money?
The clearest example is an award or grant of money. Federal financial assistance may include use or rent of Federal land or property below market value, Federal training, a loan of Federal personnel, and subsidies. Federal financial assistance does not cover contracts of guarantee or insurance, licenses, procurement contracts by the Federal government at market value, or programs that provide direct benefits (e.g. social security payments).
Does Title VI cover indirect Federal financial assistance?
Universities and colleges receive Federal financial assistance when students pay, in part, with Federal financial assistance directly distributed to students.
Does Title VI cover indirect Federal financial assistance?
Universities and colleges receive Federal financial assistance when students pay, in part, with Federal financial assistance directly distributed to students.
What is recipient?
The term recipient means any State, political subdivision of any State, or instrumentality of any State or political subdivision, any public or private agency, institution, or organization, other entity, or any individual, in any State to whom Federal financial assistance is extended, directly or through another recipient, for any program, including any successor, assign, or transferee thereof, but such term does not include any ultimate beneficiary under any such program.
What is a primary recipient?
The term primary recipient means any recipient which is authorized or required to extend Federal financial assistance to another recipient for the purpose of carrying out a program.
What is a subrecipient?
A subrecipient receives assistance from a primary recipient to carry out a program. Both the primary recipient and subrecipient are covered by and must conform to the federal regulations pertaining to Title VI.
Can a recipient absolve itself of Title VI compliance by employing a contractor or agent to perform or deliver assistance to a beneficiary?
A recipient may not absolve itself of its Title VI obligations by hiring a contractor or agent to perform or deliver assistance to beneficiaries. The recipient will be held liable for the action of the contractor or agent in carrying out the program.
What is meant by the term "program or activity"?
The term encompasses the entire institution receiving Federal financial assistance. For example, all of the programs or activities of a state agency are subject to Title VI even though it only is part of the total budget. The law is applied institution-wide. The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 amended Title VI and related statutes by adding a broad definition of program or activity.
Are corporations and private entities covered?
The term “program or activity” and the term “program” mean all of the operations of---- an entire corporation, partnership, or other private organization, or an entire sole proprietorship; if assistance is extended to such corporation, partnership, private organization, or sole proprietorship as a whole; or which is principally engaged in the business of providing education, health care, housing, social services, or parks and recreation; or the entire plant or other comparable, geographically separate facility to which Federal financial assistance is extended, in the case of any other corporation, partnership, private organization, or sole proprietorship; any part which is extended Federal financial assistance.
What constitutes discriminatory conduct?
Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of “race, color, or national origin under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” The purpose of Title VI is to ensure that public funds are not spent in a way which encourages, subsidizes, or results in racial discrimination. There are two primary theories; intentional discrimination/disparate treatment and disparate impact/effects. An intent claim alleges that similarly situated persons are treated differently because of their race, color, or national origin. One must show that ‘a challenged action was motivated by intent to discriminate. The complaining party must show that the decision maker was not only aware of the complainant’s race, color, or national origin, but that the recipient acted, at least in part, because of the complainant’s race, color, or national origin. The disparate impact theory is based on Title VI regulations. Most federal agencies have adopted regulations that apply to the disparate impact or effects standard. U.S. Department of Justice regulations state:

A recipient,in determining the type of disposition, services, financial aid, benefits, or facilities which will be provided under any such program, or the class of individuals to whom, or the situations in which, such will be provided under any such program, or the class of individuals to be afforded an opportunity to participate in any such program, may not, directly or through contractual or other arrangements, utilize criteria or methods of administration which have the effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination because of their race, color, or national origin, or have the effect of defeating or substantially impairing accomplishment of the objectives of the program as respects individuals of a particular race, color, or national origin.

All entities that receive Federal financial assistance provide assurances that require certification that the recipient will comply with the implementing regulations under Title VI. Moreover, under the disparate impact theory, a recipient, in violation of agency regulations, uses a neutral procedure or practice that has a disparate impact on protected individuals, and such practice lacks a substantial legitimate justification.
What is a recipient’s responsibility regarding persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP)?
The recipient’s responsibility is to provide meaningful access to applicants and beneficiaries with LEP. Recipients must take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to their programs and activities by persons with LEP. The recipient’s obligation is to remove artificial barriers. The recipients must evaluate how a person’s inability to understand oral or written information provided by and about a federally assisted program or activity might adversely impact his or her ability to fully participate in or benefit from that program or activity.
How does a recipient provide meaningful access to benefits and services for persons with LEP?
  • Federal agencies have suggested the following elements:
  • Assessment - The recipient should conduct a thorough assessment of language needs of the population to be served;
  • Development of a Comprehensive Written Policy on Language Access – The recipient must develop a comprehensive written policy for dissemination throughout the recipient’s organization. The policy should be framed in a way to ensure meaningful communication;
  • Staff Training – All staff should be given training on the LEP guidelines.
Does Title VI cover employment discrimination?
Generally, Title VI does not cover employment discrimination. But if the primary objective of the Federal financial assistance to a recipient is promoting employment, then the recipient’s employment practices are subject to Title VI. And, where employment discrimination by a recipient has a secondary effect on the ability of beneficiaries to meaningfully participate in/or receive the benefits of a federally assisted program in a nondiscriminatory manner, those employment practices are subject to Title VI.
Does a primary recipient have pre-award authority?
If the primary recipient has been granted discretionary authority to disburse assistance to subrecipients, then the primary recipient can defer approval or refuse to grant funds. When approval is deferred, the primary recipient should give notice to the Federal agency which has the responsibility for compliance with Title VI. When a subrecipient is found in noncompliance, it can defer making the grant, seek voluntary resolution, and if no settlement is reached, (after complying with statutory procedural requirements), may refuse to award assistance.
What types of data should be submitted to Federal agencies by primary recipients?
  1. A primary recipient applicant should provide the following information: Notice of all lawsuits and complaints filed against the primary recipient;
  2. A description of assistance applications that are pending in other agencies and of Federal assistance being provided;
  3. A description of civil rights compliance reviews of the applicant during the preceding two years;
  4. A statement as to whether it has been found in noncompliance with any relevant civil rights requirements.
What are some of the programs and activities covered by Title VI?
  • Social Services;
  • Transportation;
  • Programs sponsored by education institutions;
  • Employment, if the objective of the program is employment;
  • Health care services; Parks and Recreation; Housing;
  • Community Development Block Grants; Law enforcement;
  • Economic Development;
  • Environmental Justice;
  • Incentives to Private Corporations; Site and Location of Facilities;
  • Public-Private Partnerships financed in part or whole with public funds subject to Title VI.
Under what circumstances does Title VI not apply?
  • Generally, it does not apply to Federal assistance provided through insurance or guaranty contracts, [e.g. FHA loan insurance].
  • Does not apply to employment, except where employment practices result in discrimination against program beneficiaries or where the purpose of the Federal assistance is to provide employment.
  • Does not provide relief for discrimination based on age, sex, geographical locale or wealth.
  • Does not apply to direct benefit programs such as social security.