Skip to page content
Civil Rights Center
Bookmark and Share

Civil Rights Center

United States Department of Labor
Plan for Improving Access to Services for
Persons with Limited English Proficiency
July 2011

As Prepared by the Civil Rights Center
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management
United States Department of Labor
Plan for Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency

Table of Contents
I. Purpose
II. Executive Summary
III. Legal Obligations under Executive Order 13166
IV. DOL Limited English Proficiency Plan
Department's LEP Workgroup
Department's LEP Assessment
DOL Language Assistance Program
V. Agency-Specific Limited English Proficiency Plans
A. Agencies with Limited LEP Interactions
The Adjudicatory Boards – ARB, BRB, & ECAB
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy (OASP)
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
The Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ)
The Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO)
The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)
The Office of Inspector General (OIG)
The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS)
The Office of the Solicitor (SOL)
Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS)
Women's Bureau (WB)
B. Agencies with Significant LEP Interactions
Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)
The Employment and Training Administration (ETA)
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM)
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)
The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP)
Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

I. Purpose

This document establishes the plan for the U.S. Department of Labor's Limited English Proficiency efforts, as required by Executive Order 13166, entitled "Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency."

II. Executive Summary

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its first limited English proficiency (LEP) plan under Executive Order 13166 on January 10, 2001. In the ten years since Executive Order 13166 was issued DOL has made strides to improve the accessibility of services for LEP individuals. A few highlights include:

  • The Department increased its ability to provide forms and other documents in multiple languages through the internet, mail, and in-person contact. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Employment and Training Administration's (ETA) Office of Job Corps developed websites that provide webpages translated entirely in Spanish. Other agencies provide website access to documents translated in over 11 different languages.
  • In the last three years, over 6.75% of employees hired by the Department were bilingual and able to communicate in languages such as Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, and Russian, among others. Over 800 job announcements on specifically requested bilingual applicants to serve the Department's LEP population; 292 individuals were hired as a result of bilingual job announcements. These efforts have particularly strengthened the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), which by nature of its mission, has extensive interaction with LEP individuals. More than half of WHD's investigative staff are bilingual and able to speak over 46 languages other than English.
  • The DOL National Contact Center provides information about DOL services in over 140 languages. Additionally, agencies have separate contracts with language service providers that offer oral translations in up to 180 different languages.
  • DOL agencies have reached out to community organizations capable of providing LEP resources. Agencies such as OSHA, WHD and the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs have partnered with unions, consulates, embassies, trade and professional organizations, and educational institutions to increase their ability to provide relevant and accurate LEP services to the communities they serve.

The Department continues to work on improving accessibility to the programs and services available to LEP individuals. DOL's LEP Work Group includes representatives from over 23 agencies across the Department and has been charged with identifying LEP needs, periodically re-evaluating DOL's LEP Plan; and developing LEP resources and training.

III. Legal Obligations under Executive Order 13166

On February 17, 2011, the Attorney General issued a memorandum to all federal agencies reaffirming the Federal government's commitment to language access obligations under Executive Order 13166. Executive Order 13166 requires federal agencies to improve access to federal programs and services for persons with limited English proficiency by, among other actions, developing Departmental LEP plans. Departmental plans should address efforts to eliminate, to the maximum extent possible, limited English proficiency as a barrier to full and meaningful participation by individuals who seek information about or participation in federally conducted programs and activities. The definition of a federally conducted program is, simply, anything a federal agency does, including all contact with the public. In an effort to ensure full compliance with the mandates of Executive Order 13166, DOL is recommitting to the implementation of the Department's LEP plan.

In 2001, DOL issued its original LEP plan under Executive Order 13166. The 2001 plan described DOL's efforts to provide services to LEP communities and future steps the Department planned to take to ensure that the proper level of service would continue to be available to persons with limited ability to communicate in English. This document updates the Department's original 2001 LEP plan and reiterates DOL's commitment to LEP individuals.

IV. DOL Limited English Proficiency Plan

The U.S. Department of Labor's primary mission is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights. DOL recognizes that to fulfill this mission it must reach out to all segments of the population, including LEP individuals. The Department is committed to advancing the goals set forth in Executive Order 13166 by improving access to DOL conducted programs and activities for LEP individuals.

This plan does not address the programs and services DOL supports through federal financial assistance. In 2003, DOL published guidance to recipients of federal financial assistance on the Title VI prohibition against national origin discrimination affecting LEP persons.(1) This plan is designed to address DOL's interactions with LEP individuals it directly serves.

Department's LEP Workgroup

DOL's workgroup currently has 45 members from 23 different agencies within DOL. The group meets quarterly to monitor LEP outreach and enforcement activities and works to develop department-wide policies and procedures to enhance DOL's LEP efforts. During quarterly meetings, agency representatives report on agencies' progress on LEP plan objectives and the effectiveness of the policies and procedures described in this plan.

Department's LEP Assessment

Consistent with the Department of Justice's guidance on the Title VI prohibition against national origin discrimination affecting LEP persons, 69 Federal Register 117 (June 18, 2002), pp. 41459 – 41461, (2) the type of language assistance an agency provides to ensure meaningful access depends on a variety of factors. The Department uses the following four factor analysis to determine the nature of the language assistance to be provided:

  1. Number or proportion of LEP individuals eligible to be served or likely to be directly or significantly affected by the program or activity;
  2. Frequency of contact a participant or beneficiary is required to have with the program or activity;
  3. Nature and importance of the program or activity to the participant or beneficiary; and
  4. Resources available to the recipient in carrying out the program or activity.

Although some DOL programs and activities serve specific populations that may not reflect national LEP statistics (veterans, miners, agricultural workers, etc.), many serve a largely national population. National statistics on LEP populations demonstrate that Spanish is the primary language for which assistance may be needed. Other nationally "significant" language groups include those that speak Chinese, French, German, Italian, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, and Russian. As many DOL programs and activities operate out of field offices, DOL recognizes the need for local offices to continue to assess their individual service populations to determine local language needs.

DOL components continue to reassess statistics on LEP populations eligible to be served or likely to be directly affected by agency programs and activities. In preparation for this plan, DOL agencies performed basic evaluations of their service populations. Many agencies used program participation history to determine the extent and nature of language assistance needs.

DOL Language Assistance Program

DOL ensures effective communication with LEP individuals through the implementation of a comprehensive language assistance program. Department-wide, the National Contact Center (DOL-NCC) acts as the Department's "first contact" telephonic customer support program providing the public with consistent, accurate, and understandable information services covering a wide range of Departmental programs and initiatives. DOL-NCC provides real-time voice translations in over 140 languages for all customers contacting DOL's toll-free numbers. Last year, DOL-NCC provided Spanish translations to over 105,000 callers. Currently, eight agencies (3) utilize DOL-NCC services. DOL is looking to expand the scope and utilization of DOL-NCC services to other DOL agencies.

Individually, agencies assess their language needs based on their service populations and develop separate LEP plans, policies and procedures. Following the development of DOL's 2001 LEP plan, agencies developed procedures for obtaining and providing trained and competent interpreters and other interpretation services. This included hiring bilingual staff or staff interpreters who are trained and competent in the skill of interpreting, contracting with outside interpreter services, and arranging/contracting for the use of a telephone language interpreter services. Further, DOL components ensured that all persons providing interpretation services are qualified. Qualified interpreters must demonstrate a proficiency in English and the second language, orientation and training in the skills and ethics of interpreting, and knowledge of specialized terms or concepts peculiar to the DOL program or activity.

Additionally, DOL's agency-specific language assistance programs ensure that written materials routinely provided in English to applicants, clients and the public are available in frequently encountered languages other than English. Vital documents, such as applications, consent forms, letters containing important information regarding participation in a program or activity, information on the right to file complaints of discrimination, notices advising LEP persons of the availability of free language assistance, and other outreach materials are translated into various languages. These written translations are required as a reasonable step to ensure that LEP persons are effectively informed and able to participate in DOL programs and activities.

V. Agency-Specific Limited English Proficiency Plans

As an organization with diverse functions, DOL carries out its mission through a number of offices and agencies throughout the United States. Each agency's LEP interactions and processes relate to the types of languages frequently encountered and the nature of the services provided.

A. Agencies with Limited LEP Interactions

The Adjudicatory Boards – ARB, BRB, & ECAB

The Adjudicatory Boards consist of the Administrative Review Board (ARB), the Benefits Review Board (BRB), and the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB). The Boards review and determine appeals under workers' compensation and employee protection laws.

Over the past decade, the Boards have had limited interaction with LEP individuals due to the Boards' scope of appellate review. The only potentially non-English speaking customers would be pro se complainants or private employers, although most private employers have legal representation. One-hundred percent of the appeals sent to the Boards come from lower judicial entities such as the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) or the Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ). As a result, most parties to appeals have navigated the system sufficiently to have translation issues resolved or satisfied before their case comes before the Boards. In numbers, the ECAB receives the majority of appeals sent to the Boards. These appeals are mainly from U.S. Federal employees who by the nature of their position have a strong proficiency in English.

In Fiscal Year 2010, ARB, BRB, and ECAB closed 147,724 cases and 2,276 appeals. The Boards received more than 1,200 letters and phone call inquires for status updates, and 21 FOIA requests. The ARB held one and the ECAB held 41 Oral Argument Hearings. None of these events or actions required translation services/support or resulted in requests for translation services or support.

The Boards will contact the DOL LEP Workgroup to access LEP resources, if there is an LEP issue that is beyond the scope of the Boards' established LEP policies and procedures.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy (OASP)

OASP provides advice to the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Department on matters of policy development, program evaluation, regulations, budget and legislation that will improve the lives of workers, retirees and their families. Integral to this role, OASP leads special initiatives and manages cross- and inter- Department activities to advance the mission of the Department of Labor.

OASP does not provide direct services to the public. Most public interaction is through OASP's online communication and e-laws. OASP hosts the e-laws application, an employment law assistance tool for workers and small businesses. Workers can access this application to search information on labor laws and workers' benefits and protections. The specific substantive content of e-laws is provided by other agencies. Currently, e-laws content is provided in English.

OASP helps to coordinate the regulatory process for the Department, including the coordination of the Department's public outreach efforts on regulation. OASP engages across the Department to encourage and ensure activities are linguistically and culturally appropriate and that these considerations are incorporated into regulatory and grant making actions. OASP's cross-Department activities leverage these internal goals by striving to increase inclusion and diversity in Administration actions.

Through its LEP Plan, OASP will:

  • Continue cross- and inter- Department activities to ensure linguistic and cultural appropriateness and leverage greater inclusion and diversity;
  • Translate the e-laws application's menu into Spanish as the majority of the LEP population accessing this resource speaks Spanish. OASP will rely on agencies to provide translations of content.
  • Assess the need to translate e-laws content into other languages such as Tagalog, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, French, Khmer (Cambodian), and Arabic.
  • Lead discussions regarding ways to implement successful outreach strategies to workers with limited English proficiency; and
  • Lead discussion of strategies to address regulatory comments by workers with limited English proficiency.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

BLS is the principal Federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy. The Bureau's mission is to collect, analyze, and disseminate essential economic information to serve the general public. BLS does not administer any regulatory, financial or administrative programs or services for the public.

One of the Bureau's most prominent and popular publications is the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). OOH provides students and other job seekers with career information about education and training requirements, working conditions, earnings, and expected employment outlook. In October 2010, BLS published 100 OOH occupational statements in Spanish on the BLS website. This was the first time BLS translated a publication in another language and allowed Spanish–speaking LEP individuals to receive career information about the U.S. job market in their first language.

In support of the LEP initiative, BLS circulated posters in English and Spanish to guidance and career counselors, high schools, and Career One-Stop Centers advertising the availability of the translated OOH. BLS also distributed fliers announcing the Spanish OOH at several conferences, including the annual conferences of the American School Counselor Association and the National Career Development Association. In addition, fliers were distributed to Hispanic professional organizations, the media, and educational institutions, and announcements were published in newsletters of several organizations. By the end of Fiscal Year 2011, BLS intends to assess how much the public used the translated versions. This information will be the basis for developing a recommendation in FY 2012 about the future direction of the Spanish–language OOH.

The Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ)

The Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) conducts formal and informal hearings pursuant to over 60 different statutes, regulations or Executive Orders. When an individual requests translation services, or OALJ recognizes a need for translation services, OALJ provides LEP assistance by retaining a translator or providing the translation of OALJ documents. In addition, OALJ created Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for obtaining and paying for translation services. As of May 2011, translators were needed in less than 1% of hearings.

OALJ will take the following actions by the end of Fiscal Year 2011 to determine the nature of language barriers at hearings and determine how affirmative outreach to participants in the hearing process may be improved:

  • Conduct a survey of the most frequently encountered languages. OALJ senior management will review the information collected and consider what OALJ can do to improve its LEP procedures;
  • Educate staff and inform them of the results of the survey, the requirements and scope of the Executive Order, any refinements to OALJ policy, and where to find SOPs for LEP matters;
  • Create and post relevant information and notices for public dissemination on the OALJ website;
  • Integrate LEP training as part of the orientation program for new hires; and
  • Set up a reporting procedure so that management can monitor and adjust LEP policy as necessary.

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO)

OCFO plans and directs the financial management programs of the Department including the development of accounting, payroll and financial management policies and systems. The OCFO also oversees Agency-based financial management functions and systems and ensures agency compliance with applicable GAO, Treasury, and other standards. OCFO has limited interaction with LEP individuals. Most of the agency's work involves Departmental projects with little to no interaction with the public.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

ODEP provides national leadership by developing and influencing disability employment-related policy and practices affecting the employment of people with disabilities. ODEP develops national policy, partnerships and technical assistance that promote the adoption and implementation of practices to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. This involves conducting research and analysis that identifies and validates effective disability employment policy and practices, and by providing technical assistance for the implementation of disability employment-related policy and practice.

Currently, ODEP has various electronic and print mediums that serve LEP communities and target the primary language for which assistance may be needed (mostly Spanish-speaking communities). ODEP is in the process of reviewing data from sources to identify LEP populations where additional language translation assistance is needed. By the end of Fiscal Year 2011, ODEP will reevaluate its LEP plan and facilitate participation and recommendations from LEP communities.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG)

OIG conducts audits, investigations, and evaluations to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and economy of DOL programs and operations. OIG strives to detect fraud and abuse in DOL programs and labor racketeering in the American workplace. In the course of investigations and/or when interviewing participants in DOL funded programs or activities, OIG has limited and infrequent contact with LEP individuals. On these occasions, OIG full-time employees provide assistance with interpretation and translation needs.

The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS)

OLMS promotes union democracy and financial integrity in private sector labor unions through standards for union officer elections and union trusteeships and safeguards for union assets. Additionally, OLMS promotes labor union and labor-management transparency through reporting and disclosure requirements for labor unions and their officials, employers, labor relations consultants, and surety companies. In many cases, the OLMS customer is an organizational representative, not an individual.

OLMS requires federal contractors to file a "Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws." Under OLMS regulations, a contractor is required to provide the notice in languages the employees speak, where a significant portion of the workforce is not proficient in English. OLMS provides the notice in English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Hmong, Laotian and Vietnamese. Contractors requiring additional translations may request the needed translations by contacting OLMS.

During the past year, OLMS received fewer than five requests for translations. OLMS has bilingual staff members who are available to provide services to the majority of the LEP population in Spanish, French, German, Greek, Ilocano, Polish, Russian, and Tagalog, and produce bilingual pamphlets and posters. As the need arises, OLMS will obtain additional services of a translating organization.

The Office of the Solicitor (SOL)

SOL provides legal services for the Secretary of Labor and the program agencies of DOL. These services include litigation, hearings, legal advice and legal opinions. SOL does not provide legal services directly to the public. When handling cases referred for litigation by DOL client agencies, SOL may have contact with LEP individuals. The nature and frequency of SOL's contact with LEP individuals varies by agency and office.

SOL generally employs bilingual staff directly or bilingual staff from a client agency to provide language assistance. For depositions and formal administrative hearings, SOL offices use certified interpreters.

Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS)

VETS provides grant in aid programs (including Disabled Veterans' Outreach, Local Veterans' Employment Representative, Veterans' Workforce Investment, and Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Project programs) and veterans' rights programs. VETS' responsibilities include Federal staff-conducted fact finding/investigations into claims by veterans under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act and Federal Veterans' Preference laws.
VETS provides services to eligible veterans who are English proficient as a requirement of entry into uniformed services. There is limited and infrequent contact with LEP individuals in the course of investigations or when interviewing witnesses party to a compliance claim. When LEP services are needed, a VETS full-time employee provides assistance with translation and interpretation.

Women's Bureau (WB)

WB's mission is to develop policies and standards and conduct inquiries to safeguard the interests of working women; to advocate for their equality and economic security for themselves and their families; and to promote quality work environments. WB's vision is to empower women to achieve economic security by preparing them for high paying jobs, ensuring fair compensation, promoting workplace flexibility, and helping homeless women veterans reintegrate into the workforce.

WB is responsive to the needs of LEP persons by targeting its outreach, information and publications to diverse communities. WB provides translation services on an as-needed basis. In 2011, WB anticipates the release of an updated financial literacy curriculum available in both English and Spanish. The financial literacy guide will be promoted through community-based organizations and educational institutions in an effort to broaden the reach of the program to those in underserved communities, including those with LEP.

B. Agencies with Significant LEP Interactions

Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

EBSA's mission is to assure the security of the retirement, health and other workplace related benefits of American workers and their families by developing effective regulations; assisting and educating workers, plan sponsors, fiduciaries and service providers; and enforcing the law. EBSA balances proactive enforcement with compliance assistance and works diligently to provide quality assistance to plan participants and beneficiaries. It is the policy of EBSA to provide the highest quality of service to its customers.
Over 2,600 LEP individuals contacted EBSA's benefits advisors during the last year seeking assistance with retirement and/or health benefits information. EBSA provides LEP assistance through telephone and in-person communication and written translations. Currently, EBSA employs benefits advisors and investigative staff in field offices who are bilingual and works with a contractor that provides language assistance in 150 languages. In addition to providing LEP services, benefits advisors in the regional offices conduct outreach events with local community organizations. Contractors providing language assistance join EBSA staff on the telephone when necessary and translate written communications. Depending on the local population, language assistance is provided in numerous languages, including Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Polish, Russian, Korean, Lao, Haitian-Creole, Portuguese and Italian.EBSA also hosted its first webcast in Spanish, which provided information on retirement savings for new and mid-career workers. ESBA will continue to host similar webinars for LEP communities.
EBSA translated fourteen publications that inform workers of their retirement and health benefits rights into Spanish. In addition, EBSA translated two publications into Spanish to assist small businesses in understanding and complying with the law. EBSA has many fact sheets and model notices available in Spanish. All of these publications are linguistically relevant and several of the publications were rewritten to be more culturally relevant. (4) Many members of EBSA's staff who are fluent in Spanish review contractor translations to assure accuracy and relevancy to the law and the community. EBSA is completing the review of updates to seven Spanish publications on the ESBA website and is working to complete the review of a publication translated into Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Lao.
In the future, EBSA will review all documents deemed vital in the provision of services to the public and assess the need to translate these documents based on language groups served. EBSA expects to print a number of retirement related publications in Spanish this Fiscal Year. Next year, ESBA will update these publications for new guidance as well as updating health publications in Spanish for the Affordable Care Act. EBSA also plans to continue to conduct outreach at the national and local levels and provide language assistance through contractor services.

The Employment and Training Administration (ETA)

The Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration (ETA) provides job training, employment, labor market information and income maintenance services to individuals primarily through state and local workforce development systems. Program offices within ETA fund workforce investment partners to manage workforce development programs that provide services for LEP individuals, and/or serve LEP individuals directly. These offices include the Office of Workforce Investment; Office of Job Corps; Office of Unemployment Insurance; Office of Apprenticeship, and Office of National Response. As a participant in the Department of Labor's Limited English Proficiency Workgroup, ETA will continue to improve the alignment of its LEP plan with Executive Order 13166's requirements to effectively serve LEP individuals.

The Office of Workforce Investment (OWI)

OWI is responsible for providing national leadership, oversight, policy guidance, and technical assistance to the One-Stop system and the youth and adult employment and training programs funded under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). OWI oversees the implementation of an integrated national workforce investment system that supports economic growth and provides workers with information, advice, job search assistance, supportive services, and training in high demand industries and occupations.

OWI provided LEP guidance in Training and Employment Guidance Letter (TEGL) 26-02 to the workforce system regarding the Title VI prohibition against national origin discrimination affecting LEP customers. The guidance included additional references for state workforce agencies, local workforce areas, and One-Stop Career Centers seeking to serve customers with diverse language abilities.

In addition, OWI publishes State Plan Guidance listing questions for which states should respond in their Strategic State Plans required under WIA and the Wagner-Peyser Act. The Planning Guidance includes questions on state strategies to serve LEP individuals. ETA's Toll Free Help Line, 1-877-US2 JOBS, provides a full range of basic information about workforce program services by customer service representatives speaking over 180 languages. These languages represent approximately 98.6% of all customer requests from the 6,909 languages spoken in the world.

The Office of Job Corps

Job Corps is the largest federally-funded, primarily residential, youth training program in the nation. The program provides youth, ages 16-24, with academic, social skills, and career technical training at 124 centers in 48 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Serving approximately 60,000 participants each year, Job Corps emphasizes the attainment of academic credentials, including a High School Diploma and/or General Educational Diploma (GED), and career technical training credentials, including industry-recognized certifications, state licensures, and pre-apprenticeship credentials in over 100 career areas.

The Office of Job Corps has developed a Strategic Plan to address the needs of LEP students. In addition, all Job Corps centers and Outreach and Admissions/ Career Transition Services (OA/CTS) agencies are required to develop and implement English Language Learner (ELL) Readiness and Outreach/ Public Education Plans. Outreach materials, recruitment advertisements, and a website have been developed in Spanish. Site-specific outreach materials have been developed for other languages, such as Marshallese and Amharic, to better serve local communities. In Program Year 2009, 1,733 Job Corps students were designated as needing language assistance.

To assist outreach and center staff in recruiting, retaining, and serving LEP students, the Office of Job Corps has created multiple resources that are available on the Job Corps Community website. These resources ensure that all centers provide consistent nationwide LEP services and are in full compliance with applicable federal regulations.

The Office of Job Corps is currently transforming its academic and career technical training programs into a comprehensive standards-based education and training system. In 2011, as part of this initiative, Job Corps will align its English as a Second Language (ESL) program with its new standards-based system to include the incorporation of industry-specific vocabulary, learning assessments, and instructional practices. Job Corps will conduct annual reviews of centers' ESL programs.

The Office of Unemployment Insurance (OUI)

OUI is responsible for oversight of the federal-state unemployment insurance (UI) program. OUI provides leadership and guidance to 53 state workforce agencies (all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) for proper administration of the UI program. The UI program is a federal-state partnership that provides unemployment benefits to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own, and meet other eligibility requirements of state law. Each state administers a separate UI program within guidelines established by federal UI law.

OUI ensures that policies developed support access by LEP individuals in applying for UI benefits. All state workforce agencies are required to follow the LEP policy guidance issued by DOL. (5)

LEP resources are available on the Department's website, which may be used by state workforce agencies to provide LEP services. Resources include:

In addition, OUI has bilingual staff who are able to respond to inquiries and provide translations in Spanish, Mandarin, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Russian, Portuguese, Croatian, Hindi, and Latvian.

The Office of Apprenticeship (OA)

OA offers programs to meet the skilled workforce needs of American industry by training millions of qualified individuals for lifelong careers. Registered Apprenticeship helps mobilize America's workforce with structured, on-the-job learning and related training in traditional industries, such as construction and manufacturing, as well as emerging industries such as health care, information technology, energy, telecommunications and more. Registered Apprenticeship connects job seekers looking to learn new skills with employers looking for qualified workers, resulting in a workforce with industry-driven training and employers with a competitive edge.

The OA is exploring opportunities and resources for collaborating with external organizations, such as workforce agencies, foundations or community-based organizations to further address specific LEP needs. OA is interested in expanded outreach including pamphlets in Spanish or other languages explaining the benefits of Registered Apprenticeship.

The Office of National Response (ONR)

ONR manages programs that provide resources to states and other entities to respond to major economic dislocations due to mass layoffs, plant closures, trade-related layoffs, disasters and other events. ONR also coordinates ETA's Strategic Action Teams (SAT) that support communities in transition to be able to compete effectively in the global economy.

ONR currently offers bilingual interpreters to assist with calls from LEP individuals inquiring about the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. The WARN Act gives workers time to seek new jobs or enter training programs for new skills before losing their current jobs. To assist further with LEP efforts, WARN Act brochures are available in Spanish on the ONR website.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

MSHA is an enforcement agency whose goal is to eliminate fatal accidents, reduce the frequency and severity of nonfatal accidents, minimize health hazards, and promote improved safety and health conditions in the nation's mines. These goals are accomplished by providing information and education to the mining community and by assuring compliance with federal law at all mining and mineral processing operations in the United States. MSHA's service population includes more than 350,000 people working in more than 14,000 mining operations.

MSHA is committed to continue the use of existing LEP outreach resources as well as developing new and innovative approaches. Since Fiscal Year 2000, MSHA has translated vital documents into Spanish. MSHA translated posters concerning Title VI of the Civil Rights Act into Spanish for distribution. In addition, posters have been displayed in English and Spanish at various mine sites. The posters reference complaint procedures and points of contact in case any individual feels that they have been discriminated against on the grounds of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex.

Since Fiscal Year 2000, MSHA's Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity (ODEO) has participated in MSHA's State Grant Business Meetings for all state grant recipients. During the business meetings, the ODEO has reiterated the importance of addressing the requirements to serve LEP individuals. ODEO has conducted training and visits, showing the video entitled "Understanding and Abiding by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act." MSHA will develop a web-based "ABC's of Spanish" document to assist the enforcement personnel to facilitate communication between Spanish-speaking mine inspectors and the mining community.
MSHA will continue to obtain language use statistical data on its service populations. This will involve obtaining information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of the Census, and through internal surveys. This will determine the languages most frequently encountered and the points of contact where language services may be needed. Based on this information, MSHA will continue to analyze the sufficiency of language assistance currently available.
MSHA commits itself to taking the following actions to comply with Executive Order 13166:

  • Continue to post and maintain signs in regularly encountered languages other than English in common points of contact;
  • Continue to translate all instructional, informational and other written materials into Spanish and, depending on need, other non-English languages;
  • Continue to provide interpreter services for LEP persons when needed and/or whose language(s) will not be translated in written form;
  • Continue to include statements about the services available and the right to free language assistance services, in appropriate non-English languages, in brochures, booklets, posters, outreach and recruitment information, and other materials that are routinely disseminated to the public; and
  • Continue to disseminate MSHA's LEP policy to all employees likely to have contact with LEP persons, as well as conduct periodic training of MSHA employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA safeguards the rights of workers to safe and healthy working conditions by setting and enforcing standards, and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. As the enforcement agency of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, OSHA staff has daily contact with LEP individuals. The most prevalent LEP group OSHA has contact with are Spanish speaking. Currently, OSHA employs staff fluent in a variety of languages, including Spanish, Polish, Greek, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, French, Italian, Khmer (Cambodian), and Arabic. In 2010, OSHA hired over 25 bilingual Compliance Safety and Health Officers to meet the needs of the LEP worker population. OSHA's bilingual staff ensures that programs and services are effectively communicated to all workers as well as employers both in the field and at the local area offices. When bilingual staff is not available, regional offices use telephone translation service providers that provide translations in various languages.

OSHA has developed a compliance assistance web page specifically dedicated for employers and their Spanish-speaking workforce, which includes Spanish language training resources such as presentations, training videos, as well as English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English dictionaries of general OSHA, general industry and construction industry terms. The translated dictionaries assist OSHA, employers, training grant applicants, and others with Spanish translations. OSHA also provides written translations for guidance documents, fact sheets, and publications to assist employers with Spanish-speaking workforces.

The OSHA web page "OSHA En Español" provides clear information and guidance to the Spanish-speaking worker population and community groups that assist the LEP community. "OSHA En Español" disseminates information on worker rights, such as how to recognize and avoid hazards, how to file an OSHA complaint, and how to contact OSHA to increase workers' voices in the workplace in Spanish. In addition, OSHA's 1-800 number is available 24/7 with a Spanish language option to connect with bilingual OSHA representatives. In 2010, 527 callers selected the Spanish option.

Under OSHA's cooperative program, OSHA has developed alliances with a variety of labor industry organizations committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. These groups include unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, business groups, faith and community based organizations, and educational institutions. OSHA and the groups work collaboratively to develop compliance assistance tools and resources in Spanish and other languages. Through these collaborative efforts, OSHA held the National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health in Houston in 2010, presided over by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, and addressed issues facing certain populations and immigrant workers. Since then, similar summits and conferences have been and will be held throughout the nation, including New York, New Jersey, and California.

OSHA's Susan Harwood Grant program is a key component in support of this mission, having provided outreach and education to an estimated 1.8 million workers since the program's inception in 1978. The focus of the program is to develop training materials and resources as well as provide training and education for workers and employers on the recognition, avoidance, and prevention of safety and health hazards in their workplaces, and to inform workers of their rights and employers of their responsibilities under the OSH Act in languages such as Spanish, Korean, Cantonese and Mandarin. Target audiences include underserved, low-literacy, and workers in high-hazard industries.

OSHA will continue to work on and enhance these initiatives and services. To ensure consistency, OSHA will conduct a detailed review of the points of contact in its program where language assistance is necessary. Based on the review, specific plans will be created to address the needs identified. Finally, OSHA will review all documents deemed vital in the provision of services to the public and assess the need to translate these documents based on local office populations. OSHA will conduct the review annually and make changes based on findings.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM)

OASAM is responsible for the development and promulgation of policies, standards, procedures, systems, and materials related to the resource and administrative management of the Department and for the execution of such policies and directives at Headquarters and in the field. The main program offices within OASAM that provide services for LEP individuals and/or serve LEP individuals directly are the Civil Rights Center and the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

The Civil Rights Center (CRC)

Among other functions, CRC is charged with developing, administering, and enforcing Departmental policies, practices, and procedures under Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA); the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; the Age Discrimination Act of 1975; the Equal Pay Act; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and related statutes and Executive Orders that prohibit discrimination in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance from DOL. CRC is responsible for ensuring nondiscrimination and equal opportunity (EO) for the more than 39 million individuals served by the nation's One-Stop Career Center service delivery system (including the Job Corps program). CRC's primary activities for which contact with LEP individuals occurs include complaint processing, compliance reviews, and technical assistance. CRC serves as the only source through which many employees, participants and beneficiaries of programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance from DOL can exercise their legal rights under the equal opportunity and nondiscrimination statutes.

CRC's language access needs were determined by surveying external stakeholders and State EO Officers. Results from this survey prompted the translation of CRC's "Discrimination is Against the Law" poster into 11 different languages, accessible on the CRC website. Recipients of federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor are required by regulation to disseminate the information in the poster to registrants, applicants, and eligible applicants/registrants; participants; applicants for employment and employees; unions or professional organizations that hold collective bargaining or professional agreements with the recipient; subrecipients that receive WIA Title I funds from the recipient; and members of the public.

In addition, as CRC's records demonstrate the need for frequent direct communication with Spanish-speaking individuals, other vital documents, including complaint information forms, have been translated into Spanish and posted on the CRC website. During the course of complaint investigations or compliance reviews, documents such as acceptance/denial letters, decisions, settlement agreements, and interrogatory questionnaires are translated as appropriate. Spanish-speaking individuals are on staff to provide oral and written interpretation services. CRC requires external assistance to translate documents on an as-needed basis for LEP persons who speak languages other than Spanish. CRC staff have been trained on the procedures for working with individuals with LEP. Such training will be repeated on a regular basis and as new individuals join CRC to ensure effective communication.

The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)

OSDBU administers the Department of Labor's responsibilities under the Small Business Act to ensure procurement opportunities for small businesses, including small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned small businesses, HUBZone small businesses, and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. Additionally, OSDBU serves as the Department's ombudsman for small businesses under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA).
OSDBU, through a contract with DOL's National Contact Center (DOL-NCC), operates an OSDBU toll-free line. DOL-NCC is responsible for providing the public with consistent, accurate, and understandable information and customer support services for the OSDBU function. Callers to this toll free number can request Poster Packets (in support of SBREFA mission) which meet the basic poster requirements for most businesses and federal contractors in English and Spanish. During the normal business hours of operation, the DOL-NCC has the ability to provide customer support services in English and Spanish, and utilizes a third party vendor for translation support for over 140 additional languages.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)

OFCCP administers and enforces three equal employment opportunity laws that apply to Federal contractors and subcontractors: Executive Order 11246, as amended; Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended. These laws prohibit Federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. They also require Federal contractors and subcontractors to engage in outreach and recruitment efforts to enhance the employment opportunities of individuals with disabilities, veterans, women and minorities. These laws also prohibit construction companies working on federally assisted construction projects from discriminating in employment and require them to take affirmative action to ensure equal employment opportunities.

Based on a 2011 survey of OFCCP offices across the country, Spanish is overwhelmingly the dominant language encountered other than English, but there is also an increasing need for Asian languages including Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Ilocano (Filipino). Based on American Community Survey (ACS) data from 2005 to 2009, approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population speaks a language other than English at home. Spanish or Spanish Creole accounts for 12 percent of this total. Following Spanish are Indo-European languages estimated at 4 percent, and Asian and Pacific Island languages estimated at 3 percent. This data is generally consistent with OFCCP estimates, based on 2000 Census data, that between 16 and 18 percent of its service population is LEP (12 percent are Spanish-speaking and about 4 percent are Asian/Pacific Islander).

Worker outreach and education is important to OFCCP's mission of protecting workers, promoting diversity, and enforcing the law. Therefore, several OFCCP publications, pamphlets and brochures are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, French, Creole, Vietnamese, Khmer, Laotian, Thai, and Hmong. This, however, is only one way OFCCP anticipates meeting the diverse language needs of our stakeholders. In Fiscal Year 2011, OFCCP approved a proposal to improve LEP access to complaint forms by expanding the available language translations from three languages to twelve. OFCCP also employs bilingual (Spanish-English, Korean-English, Chinese-English, Japanese-English, French-English, etc.) compliance officers or equal opportunity specialists in field offices across the country to meet the needs of LEP individuals. These OFCCP employees interact with victims of discrimination, employees of Federal contractors, and the public while conducting compliance evaluations and complaint investigations.

To improve language access, OFCCP is committed to:

  • Securing language translation services to support the Help Desk and Customer Service toll free telephone numbers;
  • Translating vital brochures, pamphlets and other OFCCP publications into languages identified as high-demand based on agency survey results;
  • Increasing the amount of information available on OFCCP's website in languages other than English;
  • Incorporating LEP issues and concerns into agency training, as appropriate;
  • Exploring innovative ways to leverage or share existing language resources both within OFCCP and with other Federal agencies;
  • Using stakeholder focus groups to identify outreach strategies that are most effective for reaching immigrant populations (many of which are LEP); and
  • Ensuring that community organizations working with recent immigrant populations (many of which are LEP) are included in agency outreach and education events.

The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP)

OWCP administers four major disability compensation programs. These programs provide wage replacement benefits, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation and other benefits to certain workers or their dependents who experience work-related injury or occupational disease. OWCP provides services to federal and postal workers, employees of the Department of Energy, workers eligible for services under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, and coal miners disabled by black lung disease. Access to these services stems from written applications. Currently, more than two percent of all applicants are LEP.

The majority of OWCP's LEP individuals are concentrated in two offices: the New York Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) office and the Houston Longshore office. The New York FECA office serves Puerto Rico and has a significant number of Spanish-speaking clients. The Houston Longshore office receives a yearly average of 25 to 30 calls from Spanish-speaking clients and 12 to 15 walk-in Spanish-speaking clients. Both of these offices have a significant number of Spanish-speaking staff available to respond to stakeholder/customers in Spanish through oral or written means. In addition, OWCP has multilingual staff in field offices. Throughout OWCP's offices, vital written materials such as brochures, pamphlets, and press releases have been translated into Spanish and Arabic and are available on OWCP's website.

In order to ensure that LEP individuals are aware of the right to obtain assistance in appropriate non-English languages, OWCP informs stakeholders that serve relevant populations, through written and oral means. OWCP also collaborates with organizations, such as the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) union, to provide translator services. Additionally, as most of OWCP's contact with LEP individuals comes in the form of telephone inquiries or visits to regional offices, OWCP has identified the points of contact in its program where LEP individuals need language assistance. Second, OWCP continues to evaluate the LEP staff resources needed at each point of contact, and determines whether resources are available as appropriate. If OWCP does not anticipate significant LEP participation, OWCP offices will devise plans to provide the necessary assistance to LEP individuals on an as-needed basis.

OWCP will continue to periodically reassess OWCP's LEP services and determine if current procedures are meeting the needs of the LEP individuals OWCP serves. This assessment will involve identifying LEP situations and adjusting services to assist LEP individuals, publicizing LEP access information, assessing the need for non-English language proficiency when filling vacancies, and collaborating with other agencies to ensure the accuracy of written translations.

Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

WHD is responsible for enforcing some federal labor laws that include the minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, child labor and special employment, family and medical leave, migrant workers, lie detector tests, worker protections in certain temporary worker programs, and the prevailing wages for government service and construction contracts. WHD uses various strategies to bring about compliance with the laws it enforces. One of these strategies is enforcement, which involves complaint-based investigations and outreach to workers and education to employers.

WHD conducts national, regional, and local strategic initiatives focusing on industries that employ vulnerable workers, including LEP individuals. In order to meet the needs of LEP individuals, WHD has focused attention on hiring a multilingual staff. Out of approximately 1,000 investigators, more than half are bilingual; approximately 628 speak another language other than English. WHD bilingual staff speak more than 46 languages, including Arabic, Armenian, Bambara, Baoule, Cantonese, Chinese-Fu-Zhou, Chinese Mandarin, Creole, Czech, Farsi, French, Georgian, German, Ghanaian/Fante, Ghanaian/TWI, Greek, Haitian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Igbo, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Malaysian, Mandingo, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Thai, Taiwanese, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Yapese, Yiddish, and Yoruba. WHD also provides language assistance through written translations. WHD has translated more than 128 publications in eight different languages for dissemination through the agency's website.

In 2010, WHD contracted with a language translation service with the capacity to provide oral translations in 176 languages. When a LEP person contacts WHD staff, personnel can obtain interpretation services within two minutes from the language service telephonic line. In addition, WHD collaborates with many groups, such as worker rights groups, who have access to various LEP communities. WHD has a formal partnership with the Consulate of the Embassy of Mexico and is currently in the process of expanding those formal arrangements with other countries. Under such partnerships, WHD provide workers from those countries outreach materials in their native languages, participate in radio and TV call-in shows, and train consular staff on the laws the agency enforces.

WHD will take the following steps in the future to ensure the consistency and sufficiency of LEP efforts:

  • WHD will continue to evaluate the resources, publications and staff needed at each point of contact with LEP individuals, and determine the LEP resources necessary for each WHD office;
  • WHD will work with partners, including foreign consulates and worker rights groups, to hear concerns and needs of LEP communities to evaluate and incorporate these needs into its strategic planning process;
  • WHD is currently in the process of improving its telephone services by offering to its calling customers an entirely new interactive voice response (IVR) system initially in English and Spanish. After the initial phase, additional needs will be identified to offer the services in other languages;
  • WHD plans to expand and enhance development of website pages in various languages; and
  • WHD will evaluate all documents deemed vital to the public in order to accomplish the agency's mission and assess the need to translate those documents into other languages.
  • 1Civil Rights Center; Enforcement of the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Policy Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding the Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons; Notice," 68 Federal Register 103 (May 29, 2003), pp. 32290 - 32305.
  • 2See also U.S. Department of Labor guidance at FN 1.
  • 3OPA, ETA, WHD, MSHA, OSHA, WB, ODEP, and VETS 100/100A programs participate in the Department's National Contact Center LEP services.
  • 4EBSA considers cultural practices and characteristics to determine the manner in which they present information. For example, documents that are translated into Spanish and contain graphics include more pictures of families based on a stronger cultural connection with families.
  • 5 See U.S. Department of Labor guidance at FN 1