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How to File a Complaint

If you feel a health care provider, or state or local government agency, has discriminated against you (or someone else) based on race, national origin, disability, or age, you may file a civil rights complaint. OCR can also investigate disability-based discrimination complaints against programs operated by HHS. Under certain statutes and regulations, OCR also has limited authority to investigate complaints of discrimination based on sex and religion. If you believe your health care provider conscience protection rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with OCR.

For more information about the Civil Rights Laws and Regulations we enforce, please review our Understanding Civil Rights section or look at our Frequently Asked Question (FAQs).

The Case Resolution Manual for Civil Rights Investigations (CRM) provides OCR staff and managers with the procedures and strategies designed to promptly and effectively evaluate, investigate, and resolve complaints and compliance reviews, and to enforce violation findings where warranted.

COMPLAINT REQUIREMENTS - Your complaint must:

  1. Be filed in writing, either on paper or electronically via the OCR Complaint Portal, by mail, fax, or e-mail;
  2. Name the health care or social service provider involved, and describe the acts or omissions, you believed violated the civil rights laws or regulations; and
  3. Be filed within 180 days of when you knew that the act or omission complained of occurred. OCR may extend the 180-day period if you can show "good cause."

ANYONE CAN FILE! - Anyone can file electronically via the OCR Complaint Portal or through written complaints with OCR. We recommend that you use the Civil Rights Discrimination Complaint Form Package to submit a written complaint. You can also request a copy of this form from an OCR regional office. If you need help filing a complaint or have a question about the complaint or consent forms, please email OCR at OCRComplaint@hhs.gov.

THE CIVIL RIGHTS NONDISCRIMINATION LAWS AND REGULATIONS PROHIBITRETALIATION - Under Civil Rights Laws an entity cannot retaliate against you for filing a complaint. You should notify OCR immediately in the event of any retaliatory action.

HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR COMPLAINT TOOCR - To submit a complaint to OCR, please use one of the following methods.

File A Complaint Electronically Using OCR Complaint Portal

  • Open the OCR Complaint Portal and select the type of complaint you would like to file.
    Complete as much information as possible, including:
    1. Information about you, the complainant;
    2. Details of the complaint; and
    3. Any additional information that might help OCR when reviewing your complaint.
  • You will then need to electronically sign the complaint and complete the consent form.
  • After completing the consent form you will be able to print out a copy of your complaint to keep for your records.
  • You can submit your complaint by clicking the “Submit This Complaint” button at the bottom of the page.

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File A Complaint Using Our Civil Rights Discrimination Complaint Package

  • Open and fill out the Civil Rights Discrimination Complaint Form Package in PDF format. You will need Adobe Reader software to fill out the complaint and consent forms. You may either:

      1. print and mail or fax the completed complaint and consent forms to the appropriate OCR regional office; or
      2. email the completed complaint and consent forms to OCRComplaint@hhs.gov.(Please note that communication by unencrypted email presents a risk that personally identifiable information contained in such an email, may be intercepted by unauthorized third parties.)

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File A Complaint Without Using Our Civil Rights Discrimination Complaint Package

  • If you choose not to use the OCR Civil Rights Discrimination Complaint Form Package, please provide the information specified below by either:

      1. mail or fax to the appropriate OCR regional office; or
      2. email to OCRComplaint@hhs.gov.

    If you prefer, you may submit a written complaint in your own format. Be sure to include the following information:

    1. Your name
    2. Full address
    3. Telephone numbers (include area code)
    4. E-mail address (if available)
    5. Name, full address and telephone number of the person, agency or organization you believe discriminated against you.
    6. Brief description of what happened. How, why, and when you believe your (or someone else's) civil rights were violated.
    7. Any other relevant information
    8. Your signature and date of complaint

    If you are filing a complaint on someone’s behalf, also provide the name of the person on whose behalf you are filing.

    The following information is optional:

      1. Do you need special accommodations for us to communicate with you about this complaint?
      2. If we cannot reach you directly, is there someone else we can contact to help us reach you?
      3. Have you filed your complaint somewhere else? If so, where?

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If you mail or fax the complaint, be sure to send it to the appropriate OCR regional office based on where the alleged violation took place. OCR has ten regional offices, and each regional office covers specific states. Send your complaint to the attention of the OCR Regional Manager. You do not need to sign the complaint and consent forms when you submit them by email because submission by email represents your signature.