Civil Rights

Title VI frequently asked questions

What is Title VI compliance?

Title VI compliance is a situation where the Iowa DOT has effectively implemented all the Title VI requirements or can demonstrate that every good faith effort has been made toward achieving this end.

Pursuant to 23 U.S.C. § 302, the FHWA's primary recipient is the state highway (transportation) agency. In Iowa, the Iowa DOT is the primary recipient. The Iowa DOT and its subrecipients and contractors, are all required to prevent discrimination and ensure nondiscrimination in all programs and activities whether they are federally funded or not.

Subrecipients of federal assistance include cities, counties, contractors, consultants, suppliers, universities, colleges, transit agencies, and regional and metropolitan planning agencies.

What are the programs covered under Title VI?

Federally assisted programs include any transportation project, program or activity for the provision of services and/or other benefits. Such programs include education, training, work opportunities, health, welfare, rehabilitation, housing or other services, whether provided directly by the Iowa DOT or indirectly through contracts or other arrangements with other agents.

What discrimination is prohibited under the Iowa DOT's Title VI Program?

Discrimination under the Iowa DOT's Title VI Program is an action or inaction, intentional or not, through which any intended beneficiary, solely because of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, income status or retaliation has been otherwise subjected to unequal treatment or impact under any Iowa DOT program or activity.

Discrimination based on the grounds referenced above limit the opportunity for individuals and groups to gain equal access to services and programs. In administering federally assisted programs and activities, the Iowa DOT cannot discriminate either directly or through contractual or other means by:

  • Denying program services, financial aid or other benefits.
  • Providing different program services, financial aid or other benefits, or providing them in a manner different from that provided to others.
  • Segregating or separately treating individuals or groups in any manner related to the receipt of any program service or benefit.
  • Restricting in any way the enjoyment of any advantage or privilege enjoyed by others receiving any program service or other benefits.
  • Denying person(s) the opportunity to participate as a member of a planning, advisory or similar body.
  • Denying person(s) the opportunity to participate in a program through the provision of services, or affording the opportunity to do so differently from those afforded others.

Who may file a Title VI complaint?

A Title VI complaint may be filed by any individual who alleges he/she has been subjected to discrimination or adverse impact under any Iowa DOT program or activity based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, income status or retaliation. 

What information is included in a Title VI complaint?

A signed, written Title VI complaint must be filed within 180 days of the date of the alleged act of discrimination. The complaint must include the following information.

  • Your name, address and telephone number. If you are filing on behalf of another person, include their name, address, telephone number and your relationship to the complainant (e.g., friend, attorney, parent, etc.).
  • The name and address of the agency, program or organization that you believe discriminated against you.
  • A description of how, why and when you believe you were discriminated against. Include as much background information as possible about the alleged acts of discrimination.
  • Your signature.

What if the recipient retaliates against me for asserting my rights or filing a complaint?

A federal-funds recipient is prohibited from retaliating against any person because he or she opposed an unlawful policy or practice, made charges, testified, or participated in any complaint action under Title VI. If you believe that you have been retaliated against, immediately contact the Iowa DOT's Office of Employee Services' civil rights section. 

What will the Iowa DOT do with my complaint?

Upon receipt, the Iowa DOT's Office of Employee Services' civil rights section will determine which agency has jurisdiction to handle the complaint. If the Iowa DOT does not have jurisdiction to handle the complaint, it will be forwarded to the appropriate agency. To file a Title VI complaint, you may obtain the necessary forms by contacting the civil rights coordinator at the phone number listed below. 

Subrecipients FAQs

Who is a primary recipient and subrecipient?

A primary recipient is an entity or person that directly receives federal financial assistance and/or manages a program or activity, which would subject them to Title VI compliance responsibilities. In this situation, the Iowa DOT is the primary recipient.

A subrecipient is an entity or person that indirectly receives federal financial assistance to implement a program or activity, which subjects them to Title VI compliance responsibilities. A subrecipient may include, but is not limited to, a city, county, metropolitan or regional planning organization, transit agency, college/university, contractor or subgrantee.

What is Title VI Program?

Subrecipients of federal financial assistance may adapt or adopt the Iowa DOT's Title VI Program, procedures or practices; or must have a Title VI program or signed assurance agreement, which, at a minimum, should contain the following elements.

Policy statement
The policy statement must indicate the subrecipient's commitment to assure nondiscrimination in its program and activities to the effect that no person shall on the grounds of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability or income status be excluded from participation in be denied the benefits of or be otherwise subjected to discrimination or retaliation under any federally or nonfederally funded program or activity administered by the subrecipient and/or its contractors. The policy statement must be signed by the head of the subrecipient's organization.

Title VI liaison
The subrecipient must designate a liaison for Title VI issues and complaints within the organization. The liaison is the focal point for Title VI implementation and monitoring of programs and/or activities receiving federal financial assistance from the Iowa DOT

Key responsibilities of the Title VI liaison include:
  • Knowledge of Title VI and the complaint process.
  • Attend training on Title VI and other nondiscrimination authorities when offered by the Iowa DOT.
  • Disseminate Title VI information to the public and in languages other than English, when necessary.
  • Coordinate and execute Title VI educational and outreach activities.
  • Develop a process to collect information on race, gender and national origin of persons relocated, impacted citizens and affected communities to ensure low-income, minorities and other under-served groups are included and not disproportionately impacted.
  • Implement procedures for the prompt processing of Title VI discrimination complaints.

Must we notify the public in bid solicitation?

Subrecipients must include notifications in all solicitations for bids of work or material and agreements subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other nondiscrimination authorities.

Subrecipient's contractor(s) may not discriminate in the selection and retention of any subcontractors. Subrecipients, contractors and subcontractors may not discriminate in their employment practices in connection with highway construction projects or federal financially assisted projects

What to do with data collection?

Subrecipients must provide, when requested, statistical data (race, color, national origin) of participants and beneficiaries of their programs. Data includes, but is not limited to, public meetings, relocations, low income and limited-English proficient individuals served.

What constitutes reasonable steps that the agency must take to ensure meaningful access to LEP individuals?

Subrecipients and contractors must take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to LEP individuals. Among the factors to be considered in determining what constitutes reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access are the:

  1. Number or proportion of LEP persons in the eligible service population.
  2. Frequency with which LEP individuals come in contact with the program or activity.
  3. Importance of the service provided by the program.
  4. Resources available to the recipient.

Iowa DOT ensures nondiscrimination and equal employment in all programs and activities in accordance with Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other nondiscrimination statutes. If you need more information or special assistance for persons with disabilities or limited English proficiency, contact Iowa DOT Civil Rights at 515-239-1111 or by email at


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