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Department of Justice Grants and Cooperative Agreements: Statutes and Regulations related to Civil Rights and Nondiscrimination

Updated as of July 2017

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at OJP is generally responsible for ensuring that recipients of DOJ grants and cooperative agreements awarded by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) are not engaged in discrimination prohibited by law.

Background:  Civil rights laws and nondiscrimination provisions

Because a DOJ award (that is, a grant or cooperative agreement awarded by OJP, OVW, or the COPS Office) is a form of "federal financial assistance," the recipient of a DOJ award (and any "subrecipient" at any tier) must comply with additional civil-rights-related requirements above and beyond those that otherwise would apply.

In general, these additional civil rights requirements fall into one of two categories:

  • Civil rights laws (sometimes referred to as "cross-cutting" federal civil rights statutes).  These apply to essentially any entity that receives an award of federal financial assistance -- regardless of which federal agency awards the grant or cooperative agreement -- and encompass the "program or activity" funded in whole or in part with the federal financial assistance.
  • Nondiscrimination provisions.  These are requirements or restrictions that apply to certain DOJ awards -- in addition to the civil rights laws -- because they are set out in a statute that applies specifically to one or more particular DOJ grant programs, or to DOJ awards made under a particular legal authority.  Much like the civil rights laws, these provisions may apply variously to the programs, activity, or undertaking funded in whole or in part by DOJ.

Overview of "Civil Rights Laws"

Important "civil rights laws" that apply to all federal financial assistance -- and to all recipient and subrecipients of DOJ awards made in FY 2017, are these:

  • Section 601 of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (codified at 42 U.S.C. 2000d)
    • Statutory provision:

      "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 subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

    • DOJ implementing regulation:  Subparts C and D of 28 C.F.R. Part 42.
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (codified at 29 U.S.C. 794)
    • Statutory provision:

      "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in [29 U.S.C. 705(20)], shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance… ."

    • DOJ implementing regulation:  Subpart G of 28 C.F.R. Part 42.
  • Section 901 of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (codified at 20 U.S.C. 1681)
    • Statutory provision:

      "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

    • DOJ implementing regulations:  Subpart D of 28 C.F.R. Part 42; 28 C.F.R Part 54.
  • Section 303 of the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (codified at 42 U.S.C. 6102)
    • Statutory provision:

      "[N]o person in the United States shall, on the basis of age, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under, any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

    • DOJ implementing regulation:  Subpart I of 28 C.F.R. Part 42.

"Nondiscrimination Provisions"

The "nondiscrimination provisions" that may apply to certain DOJ awards are as set out below.  Typically, no more than one of these nondiscrimination provisions will apply to any particular DOJ award.  In unusual circumstances, however, it is possible that more than one will apply to a particular DOJ award.

  • Section 815(c) of Title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (codified at 42 U.S.C. 3789d(c); see also 42 U.S.C. 5672(b))
    • Statutory provision:

      "No person in any State shall on the ground of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under or denied employment in connection with any programs or activity funded in whole or in part with funds made available under this chapter."

    • DOJ implementing regulation:  Subpart D of 28 C.F.R. Part 42.
  • Section 1407(e) of the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (codified at 42 U.S.C. 10604(e))
    • Statutory provision:

      "No person shall on the ground of race, color, religion, national origin, handicap, or sex be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, subjected to discrimination under, or denied employment in connection with, any undertaking funded in whole or in part with sums made available under this chapter."

    • DOJ implementing regulation:  Subpart B of 28 C.F.R. Part 94.
  • Grant condition in OVW awards, as required by section 40002(b)(13) of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (codified at 42 U.S.C. 13925(b)(13))
    • By law, any award administered by OVW is made subject to a grant condition that prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity in programs or activities, both in employment and in the delivery of services or benefits in any program or activity funded, in whole or in part, with funds appropriated to OVW, or appropriated pursuant to certain statutes that focus on violence against women.
    • The required grant condition includes a limited exception for sex-specific programming, as well as a rule of construction to the effect that nothing in the condition diminishes other legal responsibilities and liabilities related to civil rights.
    • For purposes of this condition, "gender identity" means actual or perceived gender-related characteristics.
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