Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Civil Rights

Committed to equality in transportation service

Title VI Program: Limited English Proficiency FAQs

View as PDF


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, 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 (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. § 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."

MnDOT’s Title VI Program Policy is an expanded policy against discrimination and includes additional protected classes. Failure to provide meaningful access to LEP individuals may be a form of national origin discrimination. 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.

Together, Title VI, environmental justice, LEP and other nondiscrimination authorities protect diverse segments of the population from bearing disproportionate burdensome impacts resulting from the transportation decision-making process. MnDOT’s Title VI Program aims to provide inclusive processes that require consideration of historically disadvantaged persons and groups in all MnDOT programs and activities.

See a visual representation of MnDOT’s Title VI Program.

Sources and for more information: FHWA Website, FTA’s Title VI Circular, and theMnDOT Title VI/Nondiscrimination Implementation Plan submitted to FHWA located on the MnDOT Office of Civil Rights.

Useful Links: Federal Interagency LEP Website: www.lep.gov and lep.gov FAQs

Frequently asked questions

Who Must Comply with MnDOT’s LEP Requirements?

LEP requirements apply 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 are MnDOT’s Staff Responsible for LEP and Where are They Located?

MnDOT’s Title VI Program, including LEP, 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

Lee Zutz
MnDOT Title VI Coordinator

Who is an LEP Individual?

Individuals who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English, and, therefore, are entitled to language assistance under the Title VI Program with respect to a particular type of service, benefit, or encounter.

LEP persons may be competent in English for certain types of communication (e.g., speaking or understanding), but still be LEP for other purposes (e.g. reading or writing).

Source: USDOT’s LEP Policy Guidance

Which Populations are Likely to Include LEP Individuals?

  • Public transportation passengers.
  • Persons subject to the control of state or local transportation enforcement authorities, including, for example, commercial motor vehicle drivers.
  • Persons served by emergency transportation response programs.
  • Persons living in areas affected or potentially affected by transportation projects.
  • Business owners who apply to participate in the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program.

Source: USDOT’s LEP Policy Guidance

Who is Required to Comply with the LEP Executive Order?

All recipients of federal financial assistance are required to comply.

As described in USDOT’s LEP Policy Guidance, DOT recipients are required to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to their programs and activities by LEP persons. The guidance applies to all DOT funding recipients, which include state departments of transportation, state motor vehicle administrations, airport operators, metropolitan planning organizations, and regional, state, and local transit operators, among many others.

See USDOT’s website for more information.

What is the Scope of Coverage of the LEP Executive Order?

As with Title VI, coverage extends to MnDOT’s entire program or activity, i.e., to all parts of MnDOT’s operations. This is true even if only one part of MnDOT receives the federal assistance. For example, if DOT provides assistance to MnDOT to rehabilitate a particular highway on the National Highway System, all of the operations of the entire agency—not just the particular highway program or project—are covered by the LEP Executive Order.

See USDOT’s website for more information.

What are MnDOT’s Responsibilities under the Title VI Program as it relates to LEP?

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.

What is the Four Factor Analysis?

Each of the four factors below must be examined to determine the level and extent of language assistance required to ensure meaningful access to public services within the scope of MnDOT’s multi‐modal transportation system:

  • 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 view MnDOT’s Four Factor Analysis conducted on the State of Minnesota, please see page 19 of the MnDOT Title VI/Non-Discrimination Implementation Plan submitted to FHWA located on the Office of Civil Rights website.

When Should the Four Factor Analysis Be Applied?

On each program, project, service or activity, a separate and specific analysis should be done to determine the number of LEP populations that may be affected by the program in order to ensure that appropriate language services are rendered.

Who Oversees MnDOT’s Language Services Program?

MnDOT’s Office of Equity and Diversity oversees the Language and Interpreter Services program for MnDOT’s internal workforce, as well as external community events. For more information, contact Janet Miller at Janet.Rae.Miller@state.mn.us or 651-366-4720.

MnDOT’s Title VI Coordinator can also provide assistance. Please contact Lee Zutz at lee.zutz@state.mn.us or 651-366-3330.

What are Ways in Which MnDOT Can Provide Language Assistance Services?

There are 2 main ways: oral (interpretation) and written (translation).

What is Translation?

Translation is the replacement of a written text from one language into an equivalent written text in another language. Written translation can range from translation of an entire document to translation of a short description of the document.

What Documents are Required to be Translated?

“Vital” written documents are required to be translated. Whether or not a document is vital may depend upon 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.

Some examples of vital written documents include: consent and complaint forms and instructions; signs in waiting rooms, receptions areas, and other initial points of entry; and notices advising LEP individuals of the availability of free language assistance. For more examples of vital written documents, please visit www.lep.gov.

Source: USDOT’s LEP Policy Guidance

When are Documents Required to be Translated?

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

Source and examples of vital documents: USDOT’s LEP Policy Guidance and www.lep.gov. 

What is the Safe Harbor Provision?

A “safe harbor” means that if MnDOT provides written translations under these circumstances, this will be considered evidence of compliance with MnDOT’s translation obligations under Title VI.

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

  • Providing written translations of vital documents for each eligible LEP language group that constitutes 5% or 1,000, whichever is less, of the population 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 5% 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 competent oral interpretation of those written materials, free of cost.

For more information on the Safe Harbor Provision please see USDOT’s LEP Policy Guidance, and page 27 of the MnDOT Title VI/Non-Discrimination Implementation Plan submitted to FHWA located on the Office of Civil Rights website.

What is Interpretation?

Interpretation is listening to something in one language and orally translating it into another language either in person or via a telephonic interpretation service.

What Language Services are Available to MnDOT?

MnDOT’s Office of Equity and Diversity oversees the Language Services program for MnDOT’s internal workforce as well as external community events. The office contracts with professional language service providers statewide, both internal and external to MnDOT, to provide:

  • Sign Language Interpretation
  • Foreign Language Interpretation
  • Foreign Language Translation

For more information, contact Janet Miller at Janet.Rae.Miller@state.mn.us or 651-366-4720.

Where Can I Find More Information About Title VI and LEP?

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.