Discrimination Complaint Filing

Discrimination Complaint Filing by USDA Customers

 

USDA prohibits discrimination against its customers. If you believe you experienced discrimination when obtaining services from USDA, participating in a USDA program, or a program that receives financial assistance from USDA, you may file a complaint with USDA. OASCR, through the Office of Adjudication, will investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination in programs operated or assisted by USDA.

 

USDA prohibits discrimination on the bases of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, familial status, disability, limited English proficiency, or because all or a part of an individual's income is derived from a public assistance program. In programs that receive Federal financial assistance from USDA, discrimination is prohibited on the bases of race, color, religious creed, sex, political beliefs, age, disability, national origin, or limited English proficiency. (Not all bases apply to all programs.) Reprisal is prohibited based on prior civil rights activity.

 

 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.), should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

 

Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail, fax, or email. Here are our addresses and fax number:

 

Mail

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Director, Office of Adjudication

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20250-9410

 

Fax

(202) 690-7442

 

E-mail

program.intake@usda.gov

 

For help filling out the form, you may call any of these telephone numbers:

 

(202 260-1026 (Local)

(866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service)

(800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay)

(866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users)

 

How do I request a waiver of the 180-day filing deadline?

 

A waiver may be granted for the following reasons: (1) the discriminatory act could not reasonably be expected to be known within the 180-day period; (2) illness or incapacitation; (3) the same complaint was filed with another Federal, state, or local agency; and (4) any other basis determined by the Director of the Office of Adjudication.

 

Whom may I contact for further information on filing a program discrimination complaint?

 

You may contact the Office of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Information Research Service, on (866) 632-9992 (toll free) or (202) 260-1026 or send an email to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at CR-INFO@ascr.usda.gov. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities, may contact us through the Federal Relay Service on (800) 877-8339 or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish)..

 

How is my discrimination complaint processed?

 

Filing a USDA program discrimination complaint does not waive or toll requirements for filing a lawsuit. Complainants are advised that they may wish to consult a lawyer at their earliest convenience to ensure that their rights are protected and preserved.

 

Intake Stage

 

If your complaint is not accepted for processing, the Office of Adjudication will send you a letter notifying you why your complaint was not accepted and your complaint will be dismissed. If appropriate, your dismissed complaint may be referred to an agency or forum that may assist in resolving the issues. In this case, you will also be notified of the referral.

 

If your complaint is accepted for processing, the Office of Adjudication will send you a letter to notifying you of the acceptance and inform you of the issues that will be investigated. The USDA agency that your complaint is against will be required to prepare a written statement giving their position regarding your complaint. After the agency's position statement is received, the case will be sent to the next stage, investigation.

 

Investigation Stage

 

Adjudication Stage

During the adjudication stage, the Office of Adjudication will review the Report of Investigation and perform a legal and factual analysis of the complaint to determine whether discrimination occurred. Based on this analysis, the Office of Adjudication will issue a Final Agency Decision. The Final Agency Decision will contain an analysis of the claims in the complaint and the Office of Adjudication conclusions and findings, including whether discrimination was found.

 

If discrimination is found, the Office of Adjudication may attempt to settle the complaint or take other corrective action, as appropriate. If no discrimination is found, the complaint is closed. A copy of the Final Agency Decision will be mailed to the complainant after it is signed by the Director of the Office of Adjudication.

 

If your complaint alleges discrimination based on disability, you may appeal the Final Agency Decision to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights within 90 days of receipt of the Final Agency Decision. This opportunity for appeal applies only to complaints alleging discrimination based on disability.

 

NOTE

In complaints alleging discrimination in certain USDA programs or those falling under the authority of other government agencies or departments, the complaint may be is processed in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding. In those instances, the procedure used to process your complaint may be different from the procedure described above. The procedure used will be determined by the Memorandum of Understanding.

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