Limited English Proficiency and Language Access


The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) promotes language access so that all people, including individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP), have full participation in all of its programs, and services. 

Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

Limited English proficiency (LEP) is a term used to describe individuals who, by reason of place of birth or culture:

  • Communicate in a language other than English,
  • Do not speak English as their primary language,
  • Have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English, or
  • Prefer to communicate in a language other than English. 


We support outreach to diverse populations and ensure that LEP individuals have meaningful access to all Department of Labor programs and activities free of charge. 

What is Language Access?

Language Access means providing LEP individuals access to the same services provided to English speakers, but in their own language.  

Under the New York State’s Language Access Law, Section 202-a, agencies that provide direct public services in New York State shall: 

  • Provide translation of vital documents in the 12 most common non-English languages spoken by LEP individuals in the state. Agencies may also choose to translate their vital documents into up to four more languages based on criteria detailed in the language access law,
  • Provide Interpreters so LEP individuals and DOL staff can actively communicate in spoken interactions, and
  • Develop a Language Access Plan, outlining how it will provide Language Access services to LEP individuals.


The DOL has established a robust Language Access Plan that includes:

  • Free language assistance services
  • Interpretation, including on-the-spot, Video Remote Interpretation (VRI), in as many as 39 languages
  • On-the-spot Telephonic interpretation.  The DOL’s Unemployment Insurance Call Centers provide language interpretation in 179 languages.
  • Signage posted in Career Centers about the availability of language assistance services
  • Outreach and presentations at schools, with faith-based groups, and other community organizations to expand the diversity of individuals who access DOL services
  • Social media posts directed at LEP individuals in their own language
  • Telephonic voice menus that can provide information in over 17 languages so customers can access the DOL’s Contact Center, and Unemployment Insurance Telephone Claims Center
  • Website translation in 12 languages, and 
  • Language Bank, a group of DOL employees who volunteer to assist LEP customers for various language assistance needs


Language access plan

Filing a Language Access Complaint

If you feel that the NYSDOL has not provided you with adequate interpretation services or has denied you translation of a vital document, you may file a Language Access complaint with the DOL’s Division of Equal Opportunity Development by completing the following Language Access Complaint Form and sending to:


New York State Department of Labor
Division of Equal Opportunity Development
W. Averell Harriman State Office Campus
Building 12, Room 540, Albany, NY 12240
Phone:  518-457-1984
TDD/TTY:  800-662-1220


Language Access Complaint Form (digitaL)


Language access complaint form (pdf)

Feedback from Language Access Complaints will help improve the provision of services in Department of Labor career services and other DOL programs. 

Legal Protection from Discrimination

The denial of language access in federally assisted programs and activities constitutes National Origin discrimination.  National origin is defined as an individual’s, or their ancestor’s, place of origin; or the physical, cultural or linguistic characteristics of a national origin group. An individual’s primary language is often an essential characteristic of their national origin.

National origin discrimination involves treating people unfavorably because they are from a particular country, because of their ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background, even if they are not.


Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that no person In the United States shall on the ground of race, color, or national origin be excluded from participation in, denied benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from employment discrimination based on race, color and national origin.  Title VII extends to all workers in the United States whether they were born In the US or abroad and regardless of citizenship status.


In August of 2000, Executive Order 13166, "Improving Access to Services for Persons with limited English Proficiency" was issued and directed federal agencies and organizations that get money from the federal government lo take reasonable steps to help people who have trouble with English.


Section 188 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) prohibits the exclusion of an individual from participating in or benefitting from, any programs or activities funded in whole or in part under Title I of WIOA because of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or other protected basis.


New York State Human Rights Law makes equality of opportunity a civil right, and provides, among other things, the opportunity to obtain employment without discrimination. 

Information For Employers

National Origin discrimination can also occur through “English-only” rules which require employees to speak only English on the job.

An “English-only” rule would be unlawful if it were adopted with the Intent to discriminate on the basis of national origin or merely because the person had an accent.  Additionally, a policy that prohibits some but not all of the   foreign languages spoken in a workplace, such as a “No-Chinese” rule, would be unlawful. 

In evaluating whether to adopt an "English Only" rule. an employer should weigh the business justifications for the rule against the possible discriminatory effects.  While there is no precise test for making this evaluation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommends consideration of:


  • Evidence that Justifies the rule due to safety needs
  • Evidence that justifies the rule due to supervision or effective communication needs
  • The likely effectiveness of the rule In carrying out objectives
  • The English proficiency of workers affected by the rule


The EEOC also recommends that an employer consider any alternatives to an "English Only" rule that  would work as well to promote safety or efficiency.

For more information, please visit the EEOC website.

Filing a Discrimination Complaint

If you believe you have been denied language access services based on your national origin, by your employer, and you got your job on your own without assistance from a New York State Career Center, you may file your complaint with:


New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR)
One Fordham Plaza, 4th Floor
Bronx, NY 10458
Phone: 888-392-3644
TDD/TTY: 718-741-8300
Email: [email protected]


U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
131 M Street, NE
NE Washington, D.C. 20507
Phone: 800-669-4000
TDD/TTY: 800-669-6820
ASL Video Phone: 844-234-5122
Email: [email protected]


If you have a national origin discrimination complaint against your employer and you got your job through a referral from a New York State Career Center, OR you have a complaint against the NYSDOL, a NYSDOL employee, or a NYSDOL program or service, you may file a complaint with:


New York State Department of Labor
Division of Equal Opportunity Development (DEOD)
Harriman State Office Campus, Building 12
Albany, New York 12240
Phone: 518-457-1984
TDD/TTY: 800-662-1220 or 711. New York City, dial 211
Email: [email protected]


Or directly with:


Civil Rights Center (CRC)
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Room N-4123
Washington, D.C. 20210
Fax: 202-693-6505 (Attention: Office of External Enforcement)
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 202-693-6500 (VOICE)
TDD/TTY: 711

Discrimination Complaint Forms

Complaint forms can be obtained from the Agency you file your complaint with, or you can access digital forms on their website.  The following form is available in multiple languages and can be used to file complaints with the New York State Department of Labor’s, Division of Equal Opportunity Development.  

If you require the form in a language that is not listed, please contact the Division of Equal Opportunity Development.  Forms can be translated free of charge.  


    Complaint Form, Including Discrimination Complaints (DEOD834-English)

    Use this form to file a complaint, including discrimination complaints, with the Division of Equal Opportunity Development. The complaint may be against: a public or private employer, employee, company, or agency, including the New York State Department of Labor or other individuals or entities. Your name and information will be kept confidential to the fullest extent of the law.




For general inquiries about the Department of Labor or any of its programs or services, you may contact the NYSDOL Contact Center for free help in your language at:

Phone: (518) 457-9000 or (888) 4-NYS DOL (888-469-7365)
TDD/TTY: (800) 662-1220 or 711.  New York City, dial 211

For more information on Language Access services at the Department of Labor, you can contact the DOL’s Language Access Coordinator at:


Attention: Language Access Coordinator, Roman A. Vidal Guzman
New York State Department of Labor
Division of Equal Opportunity Development
W. Averell Harriman State Office Campus
Building 12, Room 540, Albany, NY 12240
Office Phone:  518-457-1984
TDD/TTY:  800-662-1220
Fax:  518-485-2575
Email:  [email protected]