ECRD Division Units
Civil Rights Authorities
Civil Rights Complaints
The External Civil Rights Division (ECRD) within the Office of Equal Rights (OER) is responsible for compliance with and enforcement of civil rights obligations in connection with public-facing FEMA programs and services, and those conducted by recipients of FEMA financial assistance.
ECRD ensures civil rights throughout FEMA programs, and for recipients of FEMA financial assistance, by:
- Ensuring non-discrimination and equity in program delivery or activities.
- Monitoring and assessing the needs of the public for equal access to programs, physical accessibility of facilities, and effective communication.
- Facilitating reasonable accommodations to disaster survivors and members of the public to ensure access to FEMA programs, services, and benefits.
- Improving access to FEMA services for persons with limited English proficiency.
- Partnering with the Office of Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation to ensure policy decisions impacting human health and the environment are undertaken in an equitable manner to prevent a disproportionate impact on communities of color and low-income populations.
- Ensuring the integration of Civil Rights accountability measures before, during and after a disaster, including all phases of disaster response and recovery activities at the earliest stage.
- Implementing community outreach, education, and stakeholder engagements to ensure whole communities are informed and able to actively participate in all phases of disaster response and recovery.
- Ensure that disaster response and recovery efforts are conducted in compliance with Civil Rights laws and policies.
External Civil Rights Division (ECRD) Division Units
External Civil Rights Division is comprised of three units:
The Complaints Unit processes contacts and allegations of discrimination by the public against FEMA programs and recipients of FEMA financial assistance. All allegations are evaluated initially to determine jurisdiction or OER’s ability to process and decide the complaint.
The Complaints Unit also engages in alternative dispute resolution between FEMA programs, disaster survivors and recipients, investigates complaints, and issues findings and determinations.
Civil Rights Cadre
The Civil Rights Cadre deploys civil rights advisors and other personnel to support disaster response and recovery operation. These advisors ensure equal access to FEMA and FEMA-funded programs and activities by the whole community. The Civil Rights Cadre conducts:
- Community assessments and provides technical advice to FEMA leadership regarding operations
- Community outreach, engagement and education
- Inspections of disaster relief locations and other FEMA sites
- Actions to ensure accessibility for the whole community
The Compliance Unit creates and reviews policies, plans and procedures to ensure nondiscrimination, equity and compliance with Civil Rights laws, regulations and executive actions by FEMA programs and activities. It also provides technical advice and guidance as FEMA programs and activities review, assess and develop recommendations to ensure nondiscrimination and advance equity.
The Compliance Unit conducts briefings and trainings to raise awareness of and operationalize civil rights and equity requirements and procedures. Finally, the Compliance Unit conducts compliance reviews of FEMA and recipients of FEMA-financial assistance to ensure compliance with civil rights obligations, including accessibility and equitable impact and outcomes.
Civil Rights Authorities
The division promotes equity and enforces civil rights requirements in connection with programs and services provided by FEMA and by recipients of FEMA financial assistance pursuant to the following authorities:
- Sections 308 and 309 of the Stafford Act
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended
- Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended
- Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended
- Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as amended
- 44 C.F.R. Parts 7, 16, and 19, nondiscrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, disability, and sex
- 44 C.F.R. Section 206.11, nondiscrimination in disaster assistance
- Executive Order 13166, Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency
- Executive Order 13160, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Race, Sex, Color, National Origin, Disability, Religion, Age, Sexual Orientation, and Status as a Parent in Federally Conducted Education and Training Programs
- Executive Order 12898, Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations
- FEMA Language Access Policy
Civil Rights Complaints
Any member of the public may contact Office of Equal Rights/External Civil Rights Division (OER/ECRD) if they feel they are the victim of discrimination in connection with FEMA employees, programs or activities, or those conducted by recipients of FEMA financial assistance. A complaint of discrimination may be based on race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, English proficiency, or economic status.
How to Submit a Complaint
To start the process, the member of the public must contact Office of Equal Rights/External Civil Rights Division (OER/ECRD) by email, phone or mail. Upon receipt, ECRD will review the allegation to determine relevant facts and jurisdiction for ECRD to accept a complaint, offer alternative dispute resolution, and investigate. At the conclusion of an investigation, ECRD will make a finding on the allegations. Discriminatory incidents must be reported to ECRD within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act.
How to Contact the External Civil Rights Division (ECRD)
You may contact ECRD through the mail, email and phone options listed below for general questions, to raise concerns, or to initiate a civil rights complaint.
Survivors and members of the public can access Civil Rights Advisors regarding Civil Rights questions, file a Civil Rights complaint, check the status of an existing Civil Rights complaint, and process requests for reasonable accommodations when receiving FEMA services, by contacting the Civil Rights Resource line
For assistance in accessing a FEMA or FEMA-funded benefit, program, or service:
- Call the Civil Rights Resource Line at (833) 285-7448
- Press 1 for English
- Press 2 for Spanish
- Press 3 for other languages
- Email FEMA-CivilRightsOffice@fema.dhs.gov
Contact the Office of Equal Rights (OER)
Phone & Email Address
711 or Video Relay Services (VRS)
FEMA Office of Equal Rights
C Street, SW, Room 4SW-0915
Washington, DC 20472-3505