Federal Agencies Issue Joint Guidance to Help Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery Providers Comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

22 August 2016
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22 August 2016, Comments 0

Federal Agencies Issue Joint Guidance to Help Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery Providers Comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

On August 16, 2016, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security and Transportation issued joint guidance to help ensure that recipients of federal financial assistance do not discriminate against individuals and communities on the basis of race, color or nation origin when providing emergency preparedness, response and recovery services.

 

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in federally funded programs or activities.  Discrimination in a recipient’s emergency planning, response and recovery activities violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

 

The guidance suggests a series of steps recipients can adopt now to ensure compliance:

 

  • Share information about housing, health services or other emergency-related services and nondiscrimination rights to diverse racial, ethnic and Limited English Proficient (LEP) populations;
  • Engage with and seek input from diverse racial, ethnic and LEP populations to determine how best to tailor emergency planning, response and recovery efforts;
  • Widely disseminate evacuation and disaster preparedness plans, including to LEP populations;
  • Ensure that all entities know that most public services for protection of life and safety provided by recipients of federal financial assistance do not have immigration status restrictions; and
  • Routinely collect and analyze information about the potentially affected populations to help ensure effective, nondiscriminatory allocation of resources and services.

 

“Discriminatory practices in health care can be life-threatening and this is especially true in emergencies and disaster situations,” said Director Jocelyn Samuels of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights.  “This guidance will help leaders in the emergency management community understand their obligations under Title VI and the critical steps they can take to best serve the whole community, including individuals with access and functional needs.”

 

To access the joint guidance, visit OCR’s website at: http://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/special-topics/emergency-preparedness/index.html.

 

Additionally, two new resources were issued to assist recipients of federal financial assistance: the Department of Justice’s Tips and Tools for Reaching Limited English Proficient Communities in Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery; and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Checklist for Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance, which facilitates the integration of the whole community into emergency-related activities.

 

Both resources and the guidance can be found on the agencies’ websites and the new civil rights section of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/26070.

 

In addition to HHS OCR, other federal agencies’ offices for civil rights are responsible for enforcing Title VI by ensuring that their recipients of federal financial assistance do not discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin.  Additional information about these offices is available through the following links:

 

Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division at www.justice.gov/crt; Office of Justice Program’s Office of Civil Rights at http://ojp.gov/about/offices/ocr.htm; Office for Access to Justice at www.justice.gov/atj; Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at www.dhs.gov/office-civil-rights-and-civil-liberties; Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Office at www.portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp; and Department of Transportation’s Departmental Office of Civil Rights at www.transportation.gov/civil-rights.

 

To learn more about non-discrimination and health information privacy laws, your civil rights, and privacy rights in health care and human service settings, and to find information on how to file a complaint, visit us at www.hhs.gov/ocr.

 

Follow OCR on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HHSOCR.

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