Limited English Proficiency (LEP)
In the United States there is an ever-growing population of individuals whose primary language is not English. The federal government and entities receiving federal financial assistance must take reasonable steps to ensure that persons who are LEP have meaningful access to the programs, services and information those entities provide.
Who Is a LEP Person?
Persons who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English are considered LEP These individuals may be entitled to language assistance with respect to a particular type of service, benefit or activity provided by the federal government or private-sector recipients of federal financial assistance.
Who Must Comply and Who Can Be Found in Violation?
All programs and operations of entities that receive assistance from the federal government (i.e., recipients) including state agencies, local agencies and private and nonprofit entities.
- Subrecipients (entities that receive federal funding from one of the recipients listed above) also must comply.
- All programs and operations of the federal government itself (both federally conducted and federally assisted programs) must comply.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
"No person in the United States shall, on the grounds 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." 42 U.S.C.5 2000d
Executive Order 13166
The Executive Order requires agencies to improve the enforcement and implementation of the existing obligation under Title VI to provide language access services to LEP individuals, in order to allow them meaningful access to the assisted programs. The Executive Order also requires federal agencies to meet the same standards as federal financial assistance recipients in providing meaningful access to LEP individuals to federally conducted programs.
Executive Order 13160
The Executive Order prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, disability, religion, age, sexual orientation, and status as a parent in federally conducted education and training programs.
Recipients of federal financial assistance have an obligation to reduce language barriers that can preclude meaningful access by LEP persons to important government services. The same obligations apply to federal government agencies based on Executive Order 13166. The starting point for determining whether there has been a denial of meaningful access is an individualized assessment that balances the following four factors:
- The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be encountered by the program or grantee/recipient.
- The frequency with which LEP individuals come in contact with the program.
- The nature and importance of the program, activity, or service provided by the program to people's lives.
- The resources available to the grantee/recipient and costs.
Elements of an Effective LEP Policy:
- Identify LEP persons who need language assistance.
- Identify ways in which language assistance will be provided.
- Train staff.
- Provide notice to LEP persons.
- Monitor and update LEP policy.
Language Assistance Services:
- Oral interpretation services
- Bilingual staff
- Telephone interpreter lines
- Written language services
- Community volunteers
Filing a Complaint Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as Amended
Any LEP person who believes that they have been denied meaningful access to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s external program or activity, as a result of the BEP’s failure to provide language assistance, may file a complaint of discrimination pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A complaint must be filed within 180 days the alleged discrimination, unless the time for filing is extended for good cause.
Complaints can be filed with the Department of the Treasury, Office of Civil Rights and Equal Employment Opportunity (OCRE) directly by mail to 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20220, or by facsimile (fax) to (202) 622-0317.