Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Civil Rights

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Limited English proficiency

MnDOT’s Limited English Proficiency (LEP) activities are included in broad protections provided under the Title VI Program. LEP is often considered an extension of the federally established Title VI law prohibiting discrimination in federally assisted programs. Below is an explanation of LEP and how it fits within MnDOT’s Title VI Program.

Executive Order 13166 (PDF), Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency, was signed by President Clinton in August 2000. This Executive Order requires Federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to LEP individuals, and develop and implement a system to provide those services so LEP individuals can have meaningful access to them.

In accordance with the Executive Order, USDOT issued Policy Guidance Concerning Recipient's Responsibilities to Limited English Proficient (LEP) Persons (PDF) (USDOT’s LEP Policy Guidance).

The Executive Order establishing LEP was signed 36 years after Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted. The LEP protections added to Title VI law that protects individuals and groups from discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. The specific text of Title VI law (42 U.S.C. ยง 2000d (PDF)) states: "No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

MnDOT’s Limited English Proficiency responsibilities under the Title VI program

MnDOT is required to reduce LEP as a barrier to the full and meaningful participation by LEP individuals in MnDOT programs and activities by providing appropriate language services, as necessary. Agencies determine the need to provide language services by balancing four flexible and fact-dependent factors, as outlined in USDOT’s LEP Policy Guidance (PDF).

The four-factor LEP analysis

Each of the four factors below are examined to determine the level and extent of language assistance required to ensure meaningful access to public services within the scope of MnDOT’s programs and activities:

  • The number or proportion of LEP persons in the eligible service population that are likely to be encountered by a MnDOT program or activity;
  • The frequency with which LEP individuals come into contact with the program or activity;
  • The nature and importance of the MnDOT program or activity to people’s lives; and
  • The resources available to MnDOT and costs associated.

To learn more about the Four Factor Analysis, please see MnDOT’s Language Assistance Plan (PDF).

Safe harbor for translating vital documents

“Vital” written documents are required to be translated. If a document is vital depends on the importance of the program, information, encounter, or service involved, and the consequence to the LEP person if the information is not accurate or timely.

Vital documents must be translated when a significant number or percentage of the population eligible to be served, or directly affected by the program or activity, needs services or information in a language other than English to communicate. This is determined on a case-by-case basis, looking at the totality of the circumstances in light of the Four Factor Analysis.

The Safe Harbor Provision for translation determines that MnDOT can show strong evidence of compliance by:

  • Providing written translations of vital documents for each eligible LEP language group that constitutes five percent or 1,000, whichever is less, of persons eligible to be served or likely to be affected or encountered, or
  • If there are fewer than 50 persons in a language group that reaches the five percent trigger, MnDOT does not translate vital written materials but provides written notice in the primary language of the LEP language group of the right to receive free competent oral interpretation of those written materials.

MnDOT Language Services Program

MnDOT’s Office of Equity and Diversity oversees the Language and Interpreter Services program for MnDOT’s internal workforce, and external community events. Oral, written, and sign language translation services are available. For more information, contact Janet Miller at janet.rae.miller@state.mn.us or 651-366-4720.

LEP legal authorities and helpful links

Legal authority

Federal guidance