The purpose of this document is to establish procedures for the processing and disposition of both discrimination complaints filed directly with the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and discrimination complaints that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has the delegated authority to process under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) and related state and federal nondiscrimination authorities, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The procedures described in this document apply to MassDOT and its subrecipients, contractors, and subcontractors in the administration of federally funded programs and activities. This includes the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
Complainant – A person who files a complaint with MassDOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), or the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regarding the MPO.
Complaint – A written, verbal, or electronic statement concerning an allegation of discrimination that contains a request for the receiving office to take action. Where a complaint is filed by a person with a disability, the term complaint encompasses alternative formats to accommodate the complainant’s disability.
Discrimination – That act or inaction, whether intentional or unintentional, through which a person in the United States, solely because of race, color, national origin, or bases covered by other nondiscrimination authorities, such as gender, age, or disability, has been subjected to unequal treatment or disparate impact under any program or activity receiving federal assistance.
Operating Administrations – Agencies of the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), including the FHWA, the FTA, the Federal Rail Administration (FRA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), that fund transportation programs or activities.
Respondent – The person, agency, institution, or organization alleged to have engaged in discrimination.
The procedures described below outline an administrative process aimed at identifying and eliminating discrimination in federally funded programs and activities. The procedures do not provide an avenue for relief for complainants seeking individual remedies, including punitive damages or compensatory remuneration; they do not prohibit complainants from filing complaints with other state or federal agencies; nor do they deny complainants the right to seek private counsel to address acts of alleged discrimination.
These procedures, modeled on recommended complaint procedures promulgated by the US Department of Justice (USDOJ), are designed to provide a fair opportunity to have complaints addressed that respect due process for both complainants and respondents. In addition to the formal complaint resolution process detailed herein, MassDOT shall take affirmative steps to pursue informal resolution of any and all Title VI complaints, when possible.
The processing of discrimination complaints will follow the steps outlined below:
Step 1: Complainant submits the complaint.
Step 2: MassDOT issues the complainant an acknowledgment letter.
Step 3: Complaint is assigned to, and reviewed by, an investigator.
Step 4: Investigator conducts interviews of complainant, witnesses, and the respondent.
Step 5: Investigator reviews the evidence and testimonies to determine whether a violation has occurred.
Step 6: Complainant and respondent are issued a letter of resolution or a letter of finding and offered appeal rights.
Step 7: Once the appeal period has expired, the investigation is closed.
As part of its efforts to comply with Title VI, the MPO, as a subrecipient of federal financial assistance distributed through MassDOT, has adopted these complaint procedures. In so doing, the MPO acknowledges its obligation to afford members of the public with an opportunity to file complaints alleging violations of nondiscrimination policies in effect in the organization and applying to its programs, services, and activities. In accordance with federal guidance, the MPO, as a subrecipient of transit‐related funds, must understand that it has the authority to process Title VI complaints and must inform MassDOT of complaints received and the outcome of investigations as the matters are resolved.
As a subrecipient of highway‐related funds, the MPO understands that it does not have the authority to investigate Title VI violation claims filed against the MPO (where the MPO is the respondent or party alleged to have violated Title VI). All such claims will be forwarded to the MassDOT Office of Diversity and Civil Rights (ODCR) to determine the appropriate investigative authority. Subrecipients of highway funding retain the right to consider Title VI violation allegations as a matter of assurance and/or internal policy compliance but are precluded from making determinations as to possible violations of Title VI. It is the MPO’s policy to communicate with ODCR’s Title VI Specialists, the Director of Title VI and Accessibility, and/or the Director of Investigations when Title VI complaints are received to ensure proper handling.
Federal law and regulations governing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 places the overall coordination authority for the investigation of civil rights complaints with the USDOJ, which works collaboratively with federal agencies that carry out this responsibility. In the transportation sector, this investigative authority rests with the USDOT and its agencies, the FHWA and FTA. In coordination with USDOT requirements, FHWA and FTA have established regulations and guidance that require recipients and subrecipients of federal financial assistance to establish procedures for processing Title VI complaints filed with these organizations.
Any member of the public, along with all MPO customers, applicants, contractors, or subrecipients who believe that they themselves, a third party, or a class of persons were mistreated or treated unfairly because of their race, color, or national origin (including limited English proficiency), may file a complaint claiming violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, related federal and state laws and orders.
A complaint may be filed with the following:
10 Park Plaza, Suite 2150
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (857) 702-3700
Office of Diversity and Civil Rights—Title VI Unit
10 Park Plaza, Suite 3800
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (857) 368‐8580 or 7‐1‐1 for Relay Service
Office of Diversity and Civil Rights—Investigations Unit
10 Park Plaza, Suite 3800
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (857) 368-8580
Federal Highway Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Civil Rights
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
8th Floor E81‐105
Washington, DC 20590
Phone: (202) 366‐0693
Federal Transit Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Civil Rights Attention: Complaint Team East Building, 5th Floor—TCR
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE Washington, DC 20590
A Title VI/Nondiscrimination Complaint form is available electronically on the MassDOT Title VI website, the Boston Region MPO Title VI website, or in hardcopy at the offices of the MPO or MassDOT’s Office of Diversity and Civil Rights. Alternatively, a complainant may submit correspondence in an alternative format that should include the following information:
In cases where the complainant is unable to provide a written statement, a verbal complaint may be made to the MassDOT Office of Diversity and Civil Rights. Complainants will be interviewed by a Civil Rights Investigator (CRI). If necessary, the CRI will assist the person in converting the verbal complaint to writing. All complaints should be signed by the complainant.
Anonymous complaints may be filed in the same manner. Anonymous complaints shall be investigated in the same manner as any other complaint.
Complaints will be accepted in any recognized language. Multilingual complaint forms are available.
A complaint alleging violation of Title VI should be filed no later than one hundred and eighty (180) days from the date of the alleged violation.
Complaints alleging violations of state or federal law must be filed within the time frames established by statute, regulation, or case law—in certain instances, no later than to three hundred (300) days from the date of the alleged violation.
When a complaint is received, it is assigned to a Civil Rights Investigator. The CRI will take the following steps:
Step 1: Determine Jurisdiction.
ODCR has jurisdiction if the complaint is timely filed and involves a statement or conduct that violates either
Step 2: Acknowledge receipt of the complaint and provide jurisdictional determination within ten (10) business days of receipt of the complaint.
If the CRI determines that any complaint does not have the potential to establish a civil rights violation, then the CRI shall notify the complainant and Title VI Specialist in writing of its finding and the matter shall be closed.
Step 3: Conduct a thorough investigation of the allegations contained in the complaint in accordance with the MassDOT Internal Complaint Procedures.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the CRI will transmit to the complainant and the respondent one of the following three letters based on the findings:
If a complainant or respondent does not agree with the findings of the CRI then he/she/they may appeal to MassDOT’s Assistant Secretary and Chief Diversity Officer. The appealing party must provide any new information that was not readily available during the course of the original investigation that would lead MassDOT to reconsider its determinations. The request for an appeal and any new information must be submitted within thirty (30) days of the date the letter of finding was transmitted. After reviewing this information, MassDOT will respond either by issuing a revised letter of resolution or by informing the appealing party that the original letter of resolution or finding remains in force.