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Title VI Program: Complaint Process FAQs

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General

What is Title VI?

Title VI was passed as a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is a federal 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. Title VI prohibits discrimination, whether intentional or through a policy or practice that does not appear to be discriminatory (“facially-neutral”) but has an impact that is unequal to protected classes or groups.

Specifically, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d 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."

What is MnDOT’s Title VI Program Policy?

MnDOT’s Title VI Program Policy is an expanded policy against discrimination and includes additional protected classes, inclusive of environmental justice and limited English proficient populations. MnDOT’s Title VI Program Policy states:

MnDOT is committed to ensuring that no person in the State of Minnesota, on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, or income status is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise is subjected to discrimination under any and all programs, services, or activities administered by the department, its recipients, subrecipients, and contractors. Additionally, MnDOT is committed to ensuring that its programs incorporate access for people with Limited English Proficiency.

For more information, review the MnDOT Title VI/Nondiscrimination Implementation Plan submitted to FHWA located on the MnDOT Office of Civil Rights website. The MnDOT Office of Civil Rights website also contains FAQs on environmental justice and Limited English Proficiency.

What Classes and Groups are Protected under MnDOT’s Title VI Program?

Race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, and income status*. See a visual representation of MnDOT’s Title VI Program.

*Income status is included under the umbrella of environmental justice.

Who Must Comply with MnDOT’s Title VI Program Policy?

MnDOT’s Title VI Program Policy applies to MnDOT as the primary recipient of federal financial assistance and to subrecipients, such as cities, counties and grantees that receive federal financial assistance through MnDOT.

Who is a Primary Recipient of Federal Financial Assistance for Purposes of Title VI?

The entity that receives the federal financial assistance (directly). MnDOT is a primary recipient of various types of federal financial assistance.

Who is a Subrecipient of Federal Financial Assistance for Purposes of Title VI?

A subrecipient may include, but is not limited to, local governmental agencies (such as cities and counties), contractors, consultants, metropolitan planning organizations, transit agencies, and universities and colleges that receive federal financial assistance through a primary recipient (indirectly).

Who are MnDOT’s Title VI Staff and Where are They Located?

MnDOT’s Title VI Program is managed and administered within the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in MnDOT’s Central Office location. The program is supervised by Kim Collins, MnDOT OCR Director. The Title VI Program Coordinator is Lee Zutz.

Kim Collins
MnDOT OCR Director
kim.collins@state.mn.us
651-366-3150

Lee Zutz
MnDOT Title VI Coordinator
lee.zutz@state.mn.us
651-366-3330

What is the Scope of Coverage of Title VI within MnDOT?

Title VI prohibits discrimination in all MnDOT programs and activities regardless of their funding source.

The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 states that discrimination is prohibited throughout an entire agency or institution if any part of that agency or institution receives federal financial assistance. In other words, if an agency receives any federal financial assistance for any program or activity the entire agency is required to comply with Title VI, not just that particular program. 

Source: US Department of Justice’s Title VI Legal Manual

What is the Difference Between MnDOT’s Title VI Program and the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act Protections?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is a federal law that prohibits employment discrimination. Under Title VII, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, or sex. Title VII covers employers with 15 or more employees. Generally, Title VI law does not apply to employment. Title VI is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in federally assisted programs and activities and restricts bringing claims of employment discrimination to certain situations.

Note that complaints alleging discrimination under Title VII can be received by Title VI Staff at MnDOT; however, the inquiry into the allegations may be conducted by another office within MnDOT.

Does Title VI Apply to Employment Discrimination?

Title VI was not meant to be the primary tool to prohibit employment discrimination. Typically, claims of employment discrimination are brought under Title VII; however, there are two ways in which employment discrimination may be subject to Title VI:

  1. If the primary objective of the federal financial assistance to a recipient is to promote employment; or
  2. If employment discrimination affects an individual’s ability to meaningfully participate or receive the benefits from a federally assisted program.

Title VI must not impinge on Title VII. This is determined by a case-by-case analysis. Complaints alleging discrimination under Title VII can be received by Title VI Staff at MnDOT; however, the inquiry into the allegations may be conducted by another office within MnDOT.

Source: US Department of Justice’s Title VI Legal Manual

Discrimination & Complaints

What is the Definition of Discrimination under MnDOT’s Title VI Program?

MnDOT's Title VI Program defines discrimination as an action or inaction, intentional or not, through which any intended beneficiary, solely because of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, income status or retaliation has been otherwise subjected to unequal treatment or impact under any MnDOT program or activity.

For more information see 49 CFR § 21.5 & 49 CFR 21 - Appendix C.

What is Intentional Discrimination?

When similarly situated persons are treated differently because of their protected class.

What is Disparate Impact Discrimination?

When there is an apparent neutral practice, procedure, or policy that (1) does not have a legitimate justification and (2) adversely affects individuals of a protected class (3) over similarly situated groups.

What are Examples of the Types of Discrimination that are Prohibited?

On the grounds of a protected class, a recipient or subrecipient may not:

  • Deny a person any service, financial aid, or other benefit.
  • Provide any service, financial aid, or other benefit to a person which is different, or is provided in a different manner, from that provided to others.
  • Subject a person to segregation or separate treatment in any matter related to receipt of any service, financial aid, or other benefit.
  • Restrict a person in any way in the enjoyment of any advantage or privilege enjoyed by others receiving any service, financial aid, or other benefit.
  • Deny a person an opportunity to participate in a program through the provision of services or otherwise or afford him or her an opportunity to do so which is different from that afforded others.
  • Deny a person the opportunity to participate as a member of a planning, advisory, or similar body.

Source: 49 CFR § 21.5. For specific examples: 49 CFR 21 - Appendix C

What is a Title VI Complaint?

A Title VI complaint provides aggrieved persons an avenue to raise discrimination complaints and asks an agency to take action concerning these allegations. A complaint can be filed against MnDOT as the primary recipient, or against a subrecipient.

The complaint process allows MnDOT to investigate allegations of discrimination and develop corrective action as necessary. Corrective action aims to remedy the situation while improving the Title VI Program and overall compliance. Any investigation or inquiry into Title VI discrimination complaints are a part of an administrative process.

Who May File a Title VI Complaint?

Any person who believes that they, individually, or as a member of any specific class of persons, have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin (including limited English proficiency), sex, age, disability or income status* by MnDOT or a subrecipient.

*Income status is included under the umbrella of environmental justice.

Is There a Time Limit for When an Individual or Group Must File a Title VI Complaint?

Yes. Complaints must be filed within 180 days of the date(s) of the alleged discriminatory act(s) or, in the case of a continuing act, the date the act was discontinued.

How Does an Individual or Group File a Title VI Discrimination Complaint?

Complete the MnDOT Title VI and Other Discrimination Complaint Form, which is available on the MNDOT Office of Civil Rights website, linked below. This form can be completed in several ways:

  • Online via a web form. The completed complaint form will automatically submit to the Title VI Coordinator via email once signed electronically.
  • Printed hard copy. The complaint form can either be electronically filled in or printed and filled in by hand. Both options require a hand signature. The completed and signed complaint form must then be mailed, faxed, or sent via email to any of the addresses outlined below.

Email completed hard copy complaints to:
MnDOT Title VI Coordinator: lee.zutz@state.mn.us

Mail completed hard copy complaints to:
Minnesota Department of Transportation
Office of Civil Rights
Attn: Title VI Coordinator
395 John Ireland Blvd, MS 170
St. Paul, MN 5515

Fax completed hard copy complaints to:
651-366-3129
Attn: Title VI Coordinator

Note: the MnDOT Title VI and Other Discrimination Complaint Form contains all of the required information in order for MnDOT to process a complaint. If you choose to submit a complaint in another format, please review what is required to be within a Title VI complaint on page 14 of the MnDOT Title VI/Nondiscrimination Implementation Plansubmitted to FHWA, located on the MnDOT Office of Civil Rights website.

A complainant may also call MnDOT and provide the allegations by telephone. MnDOT will write the allegations of the complainant as provided over the telephone and send a written complaint to the complainant for signature. The complaint must be signed by the complainant. This exchange is also available in person.

  • Phone:
    651-366-3322 or TTY 800-627-3529
  • To request the complaint form in an alternative format:
    ADArequest.dot@state.mn.us
  • To request the complaint form in an alternative language:
    Lee Zutz
    MnDOT Title VI Coordinator
    lee.zutz@state.mn.us
    651-366-3330

What if I am Retaliated Against After Filing a Title VI Complaint?

Retaliation is prohibited against any individual because they have made a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under Title VI. If you feel you have been retaliated against, contact the MnDOT Title VI Coordinator at lee.zutz@state.mn.us or 651-366-3322.

For more information, see 49 CFR § 21.11.

Does MnDOT Title VI Staff Look into Complaints Alleging Discrimination Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

Under MnDOT’s expanded Title VI Program Policy, discrimination based on an individual’s disability is prohibited in all MnDOT programs and activities. Complaints that a program, service, or activity of MnDOT is not accessible to persons with disabilities can be received by Title VI Staff; however, the MnDOT Title II Coordinator or designee will conduct the inquiry into the allegations. There is also separate complaint form that is available for ADA complaints, linked below.

ADA complaints may be filed directly with the Title II Coordinator via an online Web Form (linked here). To review the ADA Grievance Procedure and for more general information, visit MnDOT’s Accessibility webpage.

Is the MnDOT Title VI And Other Discrimination Complaint Form Available in Languages Other Than English?

Yes. The complaint form is also available in Spanish, Hmong, and Somali and is located on the MnDOT Office of Civil Rights website.

For additional language requests contact the MnDOT Title VI Coordinator at lee.zutz@state.mn.us or 651-366-3322.

How Long Does it Take to Hear Back After I File a Complaint?

The complaint will be reviewed within 10 calendar daysof receipt to determine whether the complaint provides all the necessary information for acceptance. The complainant will receive correspondence from MnDOT within this timeframe.

What are MnDOT’s Complaint Processing Procedures?*

MnDOT is subject to federal processes under USDOT. FHWA has defined a discrimination complaint procedure that MnDOT follows, outlined below.

If the complaint is accepted as complete, MnDOT’s Title VI Coordinator will conduct and complete an appropriate inquiry into the allegations within 60 calendar days. Investigations may include conducting interviews of all parties involved, desk audits of information and documents, on-site reviews, follow-up meetings, phone conferences, etc.

Within 90 calendar days of the date of acceptance, the Commissioner of MnDOT will notify the parties in writing of the final decision, including the proposed disposition of the matter. The notification will also advise the parties of their appeal rights with the US Department of Transportation, FHWA, or FTA. If the investigation must go longer than the 90-day timeframe, both parties will be notified of the rationale for extending the timeframe.

For a detailed overview of the complaint processing procedures, please see page 15 of the MnDOT Title VI/Nondiscrimination Implementation Plansubmitted to FHWA located on the MnDOT Office of Civil Rights website.

*The complaint processing procedures may vary.

Are There Other Agencies That an Individual or Group Can File a Title VI Discrimination Complaint With Outside of MnDOT?

Yes. While not an exhaustive list, below are additional complaint filing resources. Each agency have their own programs and processes for receiving and investigating complaints of discrimination and should be contacted directly for more information.

  • US Department of Transportation (USDOT)
  • US Department of Justice (US DOJ)
  • Federal Highway Administration Office of Civil Rights (FHWA)
  • Federal Transit Administration Office of Civil Rights (FTA)
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  • Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR)
  • City of St. Paul Human Rights & Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO)
  • City of Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights (MDCR)

Where Can I Find More Information About Title VI?

MnDOT Title VI Program Umbrella

MnDOT's Title VI Program. Protected Classes and Groups. Limited English Proficient Populations. Environmental Justice Populations (Minority & Low Income). Sex. Age. Title VI Classes (Race, Color, National Origin). Disability.