Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Why you could be breaking the law by not translating your documents.

The main motivation for most businesses thinking about providing Spanish language services to their Hispanic customers is usually increased profits. But for some businesses, the motivation may be of a grave nature: complying with federal law.

That’s right; for some agencies, not providing services in Spanish could prove to be illegal.

That’s because the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

This means that any program or activity that receives federal funding is required, by law, to provide meaningful access to all people, including LEP (Limited English Proficient) individuals.

What is a LEP Individual?

An individual who does not speak English as their primary language and who has the limited ability to speak, read, write, and understand English, and who may require assistance in order to meaningfully access services.

Who is required to comply with Title VI?

  1. State and Local Government Agencies
  2. Agencies receiving federal funding distributed by State/Local Government agencies
  3. Colleges, universities, public schools
  4. Vocational Schools

Corporations, partnerships, private organizations, sole proprietorships, if they receive any federal assistance, or are principally engaged in the business of education, health care, housing, social services, or parks and recreation.

In most North Carolina counties, Hispanics account for more than 5% of the total population, and usually require assistance in accessing services. Therefore, if you are an agency in North Carolina that receives grants, contracts, subcontracts, or any other type of assistance from the federal government, most likely you are required to comply with Title VI, and therefore a required to provide language assistance services to your Spanish-speaking clients.

Title VI compliance is a serious legal obligation. Agencies that do not comply could jeopardize their funding sources.

Therefore, it is important to understand what it means to comply with Title VI.