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Office of Civil Rights

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Civil Rights?

Civil Rights are personal rights guaranteed and protected by the U.S. Constitution and by subsequent acts of Congress, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They include, for example, the right to free speech, due process, equal protection of the laws and to be free from discrimination. DIDD Office of Civil Rights monitors departmental compliance with certain statutorily-created civil rights laws.

How does one file a complaint at the Office for Civil Rights?

If you believe discrimination has happened to you or any specific class of individuals because of race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability by a DIDD employee or service provider, you or your representative may file a complaint with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Office of Civil Rights (OCR).

Is there a timeframe for filing a discrimination complaint?

Complaints should be filed within 30 days from the date of the alleged discriminatory act. Complaints to the Department of Health and Human Services must be filed within 180 days from the date of the alleged discriminatory act.

What information is needed for one to file a complaint?

The following information should be included in a written complaint:

  • Your name, address and telephone number. You must sign the complaint. If you file a complaint on someone’s behalf, include his/her name, address and telephone number and state your relationship to that person – e.g., spouse, attorney, friend, etc.
  • Name and address of the institution or agency you believe discriminated against you
  • How, why and when you believe you were discriminated against. Any other relevant information
What happens with my complaint once the DIDD Office of Civil Rights receives it?

Determining Jurisdiction – Once a complaint is received, the DIDD Office of Civil Rights must determine if it has the authority to review and investigate the complaint. Our authority primarily is over those service providers receiving funding from DIDD.

How does your office respond to my concern for privacy and confidentiality?

Privacy Act Notice/Confidentiality – In OCR investigations, the name of the complainant usually is kept confidential unless its disclosure is necessary to the case. If OCR determines that release of your identity is required for the processing of the case, you will be asked to sign a release. If you choose not to provide a release, the investigation may be impeded or terminated. In accordance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, person supported information will not be disclosed without written authorization from the person supported or their legal representative.

How does the Office of Civil Rights conduct an investigation of my complaint?

Once it is clear that OCR has jurisdiction to handle your complaint, the investigator will gather information through interviewing witnesses, obtaining documentation and making visits to appropriate sites. You may be interviewed again as information is gathered.

What kind of notification do I receive, when the Office of Civil Rights has completed an investigation?

At the conclusion of an investigation, OCR issues a Letter of Findings, which presents OCR’s decision on whether there has been a violation of a federal statute or regulation. If there is a violation finding, the service provider is then allowed a specific time period, usually 60 days, to correct the violation or provide OCR with a plan of correction. Corrective action may involve a change in policy or procedure, provision of a service or a notice to persons supported and employees that the service provider has taken steps to comply with a federal statute or regulation. If a service provider is unwilling to take corrective action to come into compliance, OCR will recommend that enforcement proceedings be initiated. A final decision upholding a finding of a violation may result in the termination of Federal financial assistance to the service provider.

What is Federal financial assistance?

Examples of Federal financial assistance as defined by Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) regulations include Medicaid Waivers, Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A), Public Health Service grants, Aid to Families with Dependent Children.
Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Medicare Supplemental Medical Insurance (Part B) are not considered Federal financial assistance when applying the civil rights laws OCR enforces. Generally speaking, the reason for this is that these sources of funding are paid directly to an individual beneficiary by the government.

Do I have to be a minority person in order to have "civil rights?"

All persons in the United States have civil rights under the constitution and appropriate laws.