Office of Civil Rights
The Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is charged with ensuring departmental compliance with all civil rights laws and policies, investigating civil rights complaints filed with the division, providing technical assistance and ensuring overall awareness and understanding of departmental requirements under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Subtitle A of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Office of Civil Rights is composed of a director and three Regional Title VI Compliance Coordinators. The Civil Rights Director is responsible for monitoring, coordinating and enforcing the division’s civil rights implementation plan and activities, conducting investigations of complaints filed with the division, working with the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to resolve findings of non-compliance. Regional Title VI Compliance Coordinators assist the director by conducting regional training, tracking and investigating civil rights complaints and collecting civil rights related statistical data.
Civil Rights Laws
Several federal and state civil rights laws protect persons with intellectual disabilities from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, or disability. These laws apply to all Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities staff and service providers.
How to File a Discrimination Complaint
If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your race, color, national origin, disability, age or sex by a DIDD service provider you may file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). You may file a complaint for yourself or for someone else. Complaints to the OCR should be filed in writing, either on paper or electronically. You can use OCR’s Title VI Complaint Form. If you do not use OCR’s form, your complaint should include the following information:
- Your name, address and phone number
- If you are filing a complaint for someone else, include that person’s name, address and telephone number
- The name and address of the organization or person you believe discriminated against you
- How, why and when you believe you (or the person on whose behalf you are filing the complaint) were discriminated against
- Any other information that would help OCR understand your complaint
You must file your complaint within 30 days of the date when the discrimination happened.
You can file your complaint via email, mail or fax to DIDD Regional Title VI Compliance Coordinator in the region where the alleged discrimination took place.
|Regional Contact Information|
Janet Neihoff, RN
225 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
291 Stewarts Ferry Pike
East Regional Office - Greeneville
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.