The Federal civil rights laws that OCR enforces prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability and age in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance. In additional to prohibiting discrimination, each of these civil rights laws also prohibits retaliation against individuals who assert their rights. The ability of individuals to oppose discriminatory practices and to participate in OCR investigations and other proceedings is critical to ensuring equal educational opportunity in accordance with Federal civil rights laws. For this reason, recipients of Federal funds are prohibited from intimidating, threatening, coercing, or discriminating against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Federal civil rights law. Once a student, parent, teacher, coach, or other individual complains formally or informally to a school about a potential civil rights violation or participates in an OCR investigation or proceeding, the recipient institution is prohibited from retaliating (including intimidating, threatening, coercing, or in any way discriminating against the individual) because of the individual’s complaint or participation. OCR vigorously enforces the retaliation provisions of the civil rights laws.
Links to the regulations that prohibit retaliation in the civil rights laws that OCR enforces:
- Title VI -- 34 CFR 100.7(e): “Intimidatory or retaliatory acts prohibited. No recipient or other person shall intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by section 601 of the Act or this part, or because he has made a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under this part. The identity of complainants shall be kept confidential except to the extent necessary to carry out the purposes of this part, including the conduct of any investigation, hearing, or judicial proceeding arising thereunder.”
- Title IX -- 34 CFR 106.71 (incorporates the retaliation language of the regulations under Title VI)
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 -- 34 CFR 104.61 (incorporates the retaliation language of the regulations under Title VI)
- Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act -- 28 CFR 35.134: “(a) No private or public entity shall discriminate against any individual because that individual has opposed any act or practice made unlawful by this part, or because that individual made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the Act or this part. (b) No private or public entity shall coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any individual in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his or her having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of his or her having aided or encouraged any other individual in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by the Act or this part.”
- Age Discrimination Act -- 34 CFR 110.34: “A recipient may not engage in acts of intimidation or retaliation against any person who -- (a) Attempts to assert a right protected by the Act or these regulations; or (b) Cooperates in any mediation, investigation, hearing, or other part of ED's investigation, conciliation, and enforcement process.”
- Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act -- 34 CFR 108.9 (incorporates the retaliation language of the regulations under Title VI)