Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.) requires organizations that receive federal financial assistance to ensure that their programs are operating free of discriminatory practices. The statute 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 subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Discrimination is the unequal and unfair treatment of an individual or a group of people based on their race, color, or national origin (which includes language preference). Under Title VI, federally funded organizations may not consider the race, color, or national origin of their beneficiaries when deciding on the quality, quantity, or timeliness of goods or services to provide them.
Title VI also forbids facially neutral programs and actions which have unintended adverse consequences that disproportionately affect members of the protected population. Other related federal laws prohibit discrimination against people based on their gender, age, income, religion, and disability.
As a recipient of federal funds, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) assures that no person shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination in any of its programs and activities on the basis of their race, color, national origin, gender, age, income, religion, or disability.
Environmental Justice (EJ) mandates the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, national origin, income, or social status, and is an integral part of the Title VI non-discrimination program.
Presidential Executive Order 12898: “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations” directs federal agencies and their grant recipients to identify and address any high and adverse impacts of their programs, policies, and activities that disproportionately affect human health or the environment in minority and low-income communities. The goal of the order is to ensure that the benefits of federally funded programs are distributed equitably to all while no group of people are made to bear a disproportionate share of the negative consequences of the investments.
Prohibited Discriminatory Acts
Discriminatory actions prohibited by Title VI include:
- Denying services or other benefits to a person or group that should be available to everyone.
- Providing services or benefits of a lower quality to a person or group while supplying higher quality benefits or services to others.
- The segregation or separate treatment of a person or group while administering a service or benefit.
- Using criteria or methods of qualification that exclude certain persons from access to a service or benefit.
- Failing to provide language services or translations of vital information for interested non-English speakers.
Title VI Complaints
Any person who believes they have been subjected to prohibited discrimination based on their race, color, or national origin may file a written complaint with H-GAC’s Title VI Coordinator. The Title VI complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discrimination incident and include the pertinent facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged discrimination. You may file a Title VI complaint by mail or hand-delivered to:
Houston-Galveston Area Council
Attention: Title VI Coordinator
3555 Timmons Lane, Suite 120
Houston, TX 77027
Title VI complaints may alternately be filed with the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) at:
Texas Department of Transportation
Civil Rights Division
Attn: Title VI Program Administrator
125 E. 11th Street
Austin, TX 78701
Upon receiving a complaint, H-GAC will confirm that it is within the scope of Title VI and that H-GAC has jurisdiction over the issue. If it is determined that the matter is outside the scope of Title VI, the complainant will be notified of this fact in writing. Complaints outside H-GAC’s authority will be forwarded to the appropriate agency.
After investigating the facts, H-GAC will recommend a resolution to the complaint and notify the complainant of the final decision in writing. A complainant may appeal the final decision to H-GAC’s Executive Director within 30 days of receiving the decision or may file an appeal with the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT).