As Equal Opportunity professionals, we normally look to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) as the law requiring nondiscrimination and equal opportunity in our employment practices. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (Title VI), on the other hand, requires nondiscrimination and equal opportunity in federally funded programs and activities. Rarely does Title VI apply to employment practices.

But, in Rogers, et al. v. Board of Education of Prince George’s County, Case No. 8:11-cv-01194-PJM (D. Md. Apr. 9, 2012), the district court outlined the narrow circumstances under which an employment-related discrimination complaint may be brought under Title VI. Under the facts of Rogers, certain teachers suffered termination of employment and brought complaints against the school board under Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act. The court observed that evidence of record indicated that the U.S. Department of Education provided more than $1 billion in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to Maryland public schools “for the express purpose of creating jobs and maintaining existing ones.” As a result, the court maintained that, if the jury concludes that a primary objective for the funding was providing employment, then the school board’s employment practices would be covered by Title VI as well as Title VII. On the other hand, if the jury determines that a primary objective of the funding was education, then the teachers’ Title VI claims against the school board must fail.

So, if your organization received ARRA funding (or any other federal funding) for a primary objective of creating and/or maintaining jobs, your employment practices may be governed by Title VI as well as Title VII.

Seena Foster is an attorney and award-winning author of “Civil Rights Investigations Under the Workforce Investment Act and Other Title VI-Related Laws: From Intake to Final Determination.” She is also a Partner with Title VI Consulting in Alexandria, VA. You may visit her website at www.titleviconsulting.com.