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LEP Employment / Unemployment

LARC Home Page This section describes Federal and New York State legal protections and the agencies responsible for enforcing and investigating employment discrimination on the basis of national origin against persons with limited English proficiency (LEP). New York also has additional protections for Spanish-speaking individuals claiming unemployment benefits at an administrative or Appeal Board hearing.

Federal Protections                                                                   

EEOC and Title VII

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the Federal Agency charged with investigating employment discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC website can be found here in multiple languages.

Title VII protects workers from employment discrimination based on their race, color or national origin.  In enacting the Title VII's prohibitions, Congress recognized that whether an individual's ancestry is Mexican, Ukrainian, Filipino, Arab, American Indian, or any other nationality, he or she is entitled to the same employment opportunities as anyone else.

Title VII's protections extend to all workers in the United States, whether born in the United States or abroad and regardless of citizenship status. Title VII articulates the national policy against national origin discrimination in the workplace, while also preserving an employer's freedom of choice to make sound business decisions.

Employment discrimination against a national origin group includes discrimination based on:

  • Ethnicity: Employment discrimination against members of an ethnic group, for example, discrimination against someone because he is Arab. National origin discrimination also includes discrimination against anyone who does not belong to a particular ethnic group, for example, less favorable treatment of anyone who is not Hispanic.
  • Physical, linguistic, or cultural traits: Employment discrimination against an individual because she has physical, linguistic, and/or cultural characteristics closely associated with a national origin group, for example, discrimination against someone based on her traditional African style of dress.
  • Perception: Employment discrimination against an individual based on the employer's belief that he is a member of a particular national origin group, for example, discrimination against someone perceived as being Arab based on his speech, mannerisms, and appearance, regardless of how he identifies himself or whether he is, in fact, of Arab ethnicity. See EEOC Compliance Manual, National Origin Discrimination

Department of Labor (DOL) LEP Guidance 

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance regarding persons with LEP which requires recipients of federal financial assistance to ensure meaningful access to their programs and activities by LEP persons pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, its implementing regulations, and Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.  A copy of the DOL LEP Guidance can be found here and in the resources below.

The guidance clarifies what the law already requires with respect to ensuring that information and services are accessible to LEP persons. Eligible LEP individuals must be able to access the full spectrum of services provided by recipients.

The purpose is “to assist recipients in fulfilling their responsibilities to provide meaningful access to LEP persons under existing law.” The DOL advises recipients that they are required by Title VI to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to federally assisted programs and activities by LEP persons through language assistance that is reasonable, timely, and effective.

State Workforce Agencies were required to disseminate the revised LEP guidance to all of their grantees and sub-grantees with instructions to disseminate it further. In addition, each state recipient of federal financial assistance was required to take reasonable steps to ensure LEP persons receive, free of charge, the language assistance necessary to afford them meaningful access to their programs, services, and information.  A Copy of this notice can be found here.

Workforce Investment Act (WIA)

In September 2006, the DOL released an LEP Directive based on Section 188 of the (WIA) and a Language Assistance Planning and Self Assessment Tool. Both are available in the resources below.

New York Protections                                                              4

New York State Division of Human Rights

The New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) serves as an alternative to the court system for resolving discrimination claims under New York's Human Rights Law. DHR is responsible for investigating employment discrimination claims on the basis of national origin. The DHR website can be found at this link.

Unemployment Benefits for Spanish-speakers

As a result of the Consent Decree in the case of Barcia v. Sitkin 79 Civ. 5831(RLC); MLC v. Sitkin, 79 Civ. 5899(RLC), and the Stipulation and Order of February 18, 1997,  the Hearing Section of the New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board is required to provide bilingual services to Spanish-speaking claimants. The Consent Decree describes how:

“there shall be an assignment of translators at all ALJ and Appeal Board hearings where Spanish-speaking parties request translators, or where form LO 420 indicates that a translator is needed or necessary or, in absence of either of these, the ALJ or Appeal Board determines that translation assistance is necessary.”

The Appeal Board obligation is described in the Stipulation Agreement that if “a party who needs Spanish translator services is in New York State, schedule the hearing so that the ALJ or Board Member and the translator will be at a hearing site convenient to that party.”  A copy of the Consent Decree and the 1997 Stipulation Agreement can be found below.

Federal Resources                                                                            

Federal Agency Documents

National Studies on LEP Workers

State Resources                                                                                 

Frequently Asked Questions
Federal LEP
Title VI
Executive Order 13166
DOJ LEP Guidance
Federal Agency Guidance
LEP Topics
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Legal Services and Attorneys
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LEP Statistics
Census Data
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Resources and Training
Language Access Guides
Language Access Training
Model LEP Plans
New York Resources

Last Updated: August  11, 2008 ● Empire Justice Center © 2008