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Classification Code Date
N 4720.6 September 2, 1992

  1. PURPOSE. To provide guidance to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) field officials, State highway agencies (SHAs), their subrecipients, and contractors regarding the nondiscrimination requirements of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987.


    1. The Supreme Courts's decision in the case of Grove City College v. Bell, 465 U.S. 555 (1984), limited the reach of Federal agency nondiscrimination requirements to those parts of a recipient's operation which directly benefitted from Federal assistance. The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 clarified the intent of Congress to include all programs and activities of Federal-aid recipients, subrecipients and contractors. This statute clarified the intent of Congress as it relates to the scope of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related nondiscrimination statutes.

    2. Nondiscrimination programs require that Federal-aid recipients, subrecipients, and contractors prevent discrimination and ensure nondiscrimination in all of their programs and activities, whether those programs and activities are federally funded or not. The factors prohibited from serving as a basis for action or inaction which discriminates include race, color, national origin, sex, age, and handicap/disability. The efforts to prevent discrimination must address, but not be limited to a program's impacts, access, benefits, participation, treatment, services, contracting opportunities, training opportunities, investigations of complaints, allocations of funds, prioritization of projects, and the functions of right-of-way, research, planning, and design.

    3. Authorities For nondiscrimination include but are notlimited to: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, heAge Discrimination Acts of 1967 and 1975, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Acts of 1973, the American withDisabilities Act of 1990, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Title 23, United States Code, Section 324.


    1. The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 amended each of the affected statutes by adding a section defining the word "program" to make clear that discrimination is prohibited throughout an entire agency if any part of the agency receives Federal financial assistance.

    2. If a unit of a State or local government is extended Federal aid and distributes such aid to another governmental entity, all of the operations of the entity which distribute the funds and all of the operations of the department or agency to which the funds are distributed are covered.

    3. Corporations, partnerships, or other private organizations or sole proprietorships are covered in their entirety if such an entity receives Federal financial assistance which is extended to it as a whole or if it is principally engaged in certain types of activities.


    1. FHWA field officials:

        (1) Inform the States of the existence of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987.

        (2) Provided guidance and technical assistance to SHAs upon request.

        (3) Inform States of the need to incorporate language in the next scheduled update of their Nondiscrimination ("Title VI") Plans indicating that they are aware of the scope of the nondiscrimination provisions and that they have incorporated a process to inform persons involved in or affected by all of their programs and activities of their rights under Title VI and related nondiscrimination statutes.

        (4) Provide and/or coordinate training addressing nondiscrimination program requirements.

        (5) Provide guidance on how nondiscrimination complaints will be handled.

        (6) If a complaint of discrimination is received from a person who believes that he or she has been subjected to discrimination under any program or activity of a recipient, subrecipient, or contractors whether Federal-aid funds are involved in a particular program or activity or not, immediately transmit the complaint to the Director, Departmental Office of Civil Rights, and send a copy of the complaint to HCR-20.

    2. State transportation agencies:

        (1) Incorporate appropriate language in updates of Nondiscrimination ("Title VI") Plans to ensure that persons affected by or involved in all of a State's programs and activities are aware of their rights to not be subjected to discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, age, or handicap/disability.

        (2) Ensure that persons who believe they have been subjected to discrimination are made aware of the avenues of redress available to them and that they are provided advice on the process.

        (3) Monitor activities and investigate complaints filed against Federal-aid subrecipients and contractors. The SHAs are also responsible for preventing discrimination in all of their own programs and activities and attempting to informally resolve complaints filed against them throughout the complaint process.

        (4) Where a complainant lodges a complaint against the SHA, the FHWA will conduct or contract for the investigation or, if a class action complaint, a review.

        (5) In instances where the complaint is against a contractor, subcontractor, or subrecipient, the FHWA can defer to the appropriate SHA to schedule and conduct an investigation, although, initially, involvement by FHWA may be appropriate to ensure the adequacy of the investigation.

T. D. Larson
Federal Highway Administrator

Page last modified on October 19, 2015
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