Under federal rules, the EPA office has 20 days to decide whether to investigate a formal complaint. It has another 180 days to complete such an investigation and issue possible findings of civil-rights violations. In fact, the EPA took more than a year, on average, to clear cases.

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Investigation with Findings

Dismissed after Investigation

In the U.S., among Among all complaints filed since 1996:
cases were rejected
cases had no review
cases were
accepted for investigation

Investigation with Findings

Dismissed after Investigation

One case still being reviewed by the EPA is not represented in this graphic. Seven others for which the Center for Public Integrity was unable to obtain dates are not represented in the timeline but are reflected in the total case numbers above it.

Source: Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, analysis by the Center for Public Integrity. Read how we compiled the data here.

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Jurisdiction Rulings and Investigation Results


Cases that did not pass jurisdictional review because they missed the 180-day time limit for filing complaints; the agency targeted in the complaint did not receive EPA funding; or the complaint did not describe a discriminatory act covered by Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.

No Review

Cases that were withdrawn; referred to another federal agency; or that became moot before the EPA could complete a jurisdictional review.


Cases the EPA ruled were within its jurisdiction and accepted for investigation.

Investigation with Findings

Cases that were accepted for investigation and later withdrawn by the complainants; referred to another federal agency with subject-matter expertise; or resolved through an agreement or settlement with the target of the complaint.

Dismissed after Investigation

Cases that were accepted for investigation but in which the EPA found no discrimination; put on hold; or dismissed due to concurrent pending litigation.

File ID: 03rr-10-r4
New York NY
Complaint alleges that the city is using zoning to provide municipal services in a discriminatory manner against ethnic minorities and poor inside the Transit Overlay District.
Case accepted
Investigation closed