For more information, go to https://www.justice.gov/crt.

CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION HIGHLIGHTS (Oct. 21, 2016)

As Americans across the country begin voting, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch released a video message explaining that the Department of Justice will dispatch hundreds of federal monitors to polling places around the country. In the video she said, “as the American people prepare to go to the polls, I want them to know that we stand ready to ensure that every voter can cast his or her ballot free of unlawful intimidation, discrimination or obstruction.”

The Justice Department filed a statement of interest arguing that the Fair Housing Act (FHA) requires that landlords who consider criminal records in evaluating prospective tenants do not use overly broad generalizations that disproportionately disqualify people based on a legally protected characteristic, such as race or national origin.

The Justice Department announced that it has moved to intervene in Savage et al. v. Pocomoke City et al., a private lawsuit alleging race discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by Pocomoke City, Maryland, the Worcester County Sheriff and the state of Maryland.

The Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a joint guidance letter to state and local child welfare systems on the requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

The Justice Department published a blog post celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which highlighted stories about people impacted by the department’s Olmstead enforcement efforts and explained: “Protecting the rights of people with disabilities to work in, and contribute to, their communities makes our entire country stronger. When we commit to supporting, protecting and empowering our neighbors to work, our communities flourish. Employers benefit from diligent, talented and innovative employees invested in the success of their companies. And when employees and employers thrive alongside one another, our entire economy prospers. During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we need to spread that message across America.”

Former Hancock County, West Virginia, Sheriff’s Deputy Mark A. Cowden, 51, of Weirton, West Virginia, was convicted by jury of using excessive force against an arrestee.

Former Bullitt County, Kentucky, Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Corder, of Louisville, Kentucky, was sentenced to 27 months in prison for willfully depriving a county resident of his constitutional rights.

The Justice Department reached an agreement with the University of New Mexico (UNM) to ensure that UNM responds swiftly and effectively to allegations of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, involving students. The agreement resolves the department’s findings of UNM’s non-compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Fall Issue of Title VI Civil Rights News @ FCS Released (Oct. 25, 2016)

The Fall issue of Title VI Civil Rights News @FCS is now available at go.usa.gov/xkGuV. This issue spotlights the recent work of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, and the continued need for federal enforcement and technical assistance so that no student is deprived an opportunity because of discrimination. This issue also highlights federal agency action under Title VI to open up housing opportunities, unemployment services, and the court system to all, regardless of race or national origin. The work underscores that Title VI remains a powerful tool to address racial disparities in the discipline practices of our schools, to tackle bias in policing and emergency response, and to ensure nondiscriminatory access to benefits.

Just since the August newsletter, the long-term efforts of the remarkable staff at the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section (FCS) have culminated in important guidance, technical assistance, and enforcement – much of it informed or inspired by you. FCS began publishing updated and expanded portions of the Title VI Legal Manual covering key Title VI concepts, including legislative history, the Department of Justice role, and scope of coverage. We also issued multi-agency guidance on Title VI and emergencies, joint guidance on Title VI and child welfare, and a report advancing the important work of ensuring language access to the courts. Read on, and you will find information on briefs, settlements, and litigation updates as well.

I look forward to continued collaboration to advance our collective mission to ensure that federal funds do not support discrimination.

Christine Stoneman
Acting Chief
Federal Coordination and Compliance Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice

To receive Title VI Civil Rights News @FCS by email, sign up for govdelivery @ https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOJ/subscriber/new?qsp=997 and check the Title VI box.

CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION HIGHLIGHTS (Oct. 28, 2016)

The Justice Department filed a proposed consent decree with the city of Florence, Kentucky, to resolve a pregnancy and disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the department under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is the department’s first lawsuit challenging a discriminatory light duty policy since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling regarding light duty policies and pregnant employees in Young v. United Parcel Service. It is also the department’s first lawsuit challenging disability-related “no restrictions” policies in the workplace.

In anticipation of the upcoming general elections, the Justice Department provided information about its efforts, through the Civil Rights Division and Criminal Division, to ensure that all qualified voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots and have their votes counted free of discrimination, intimidation or fraud in the election process.

Head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta delivered remarks at the Right to Counsel National Consortium Second Annual Meeting, where she said, “The right to counsel embodies a core truth of our justice system. It makes real the notion of fairness under the law. And it affirms the ideal that all people – regardless of wealth or poverty, status or stature, color or creed – deserve equal treatment and equal protection.”

As part of the consent decree between the Justice Department and the city of Seattle, a scientific poll conducted by national polling firm Anzalone Liszt Grove Research was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The poll, which was commissioned by the federal monitor, measures community attitudes towards the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and found that SPD’s performance ratings continue to improve. According to the poll, the number of people who approve of SPD has increased to 72 percent, up from 60 percent in 2013 and 64 percent in 2015. Much of that improvement is among African Americans (49 percent approval in 2013 to 62 percent now) and Latinos (54 percent in 2013 to 74 percent now).

A Wisconsin man was sentenced last Friday to 25 years in prison for using violence, threats and coercion to compel three young women suffering from heroin addiction to prostitute for his profit in Wisconsin and Minnesota.