What to Expect

How OCR Investigates a Civil Rights Complaint

Once a complaint is received, OCR determines if it has the legal authority to review and investigate the complaint. OCR has authority over:

  • Recipients of Federal financial assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • Entities for which OCR has been designated enforcement responsibility by another agency

Once it is clear that OCR can handle your complaint, the investigator will gather information by:

  • Interviewing witnesses, possibly including you
  • Obtaining documentation
  • Making visits to appropriate sites

What Happens After the Investigation

At the end of the investigation, OCR issues a letter presenting its decision on whether your rights have been violated.

If OCR determines your rights have been violated, the health care provider or state or local government agency that violated your rights is granted a specific time period to correct the violation or provide OCR with a plan of correction.

Corrective action may include:

  • Changing a policy or procedure
  • Providing a service
  • Reinstating a person to a job
  • Restoring lost benefits
  • Providing notice to clients and employees that a recipient has taken steps to comply with a federal statute or regulation

If the health care provider or state or local government is unwilling to take corrective action, OCR will recommend initiating enforcement proceedings. A final decision upholding a finding of a violation may result in the termination of Federal financial assistance to the recipient.

Content created by Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Content last reviewed on June 16, 2017