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There is a federal nondiscrimination law for any program that receives federal grants. This provision refers to disabilities, but there are similar federal statutes applying many other categories that might trigger a claim for discrimination, including alleged race or sex discrimination. Defending complaints, even when nothing wrong occurred, can be very costly.

Two colleges made a financial sacrifice by refusing to accept federal grants in any form, in order to remain free to run their college without threat of harassing complaints or regulations. These colleges are Hillsdale College and Grove City College.

29 U.S.C. § 794. Nondiscrimination under Federal grants and programs

(a) Promulgation of rules and regulations. No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 7(20) [29 USCS § 705(20)], shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service. The head of each such agency shall promulgate such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the amendments to this section made by the Rehabilitation, Comprehensive Services, and Developmental Disabilities Act of 1978. Copies of any proposed regulation shall be submitted to appropriate authorizing committees of the Congress, and such regulation may take effect no earlier than the thirtieth day after the date on which such regulation is so submitted to such committees.

(b) "Program or activity" defined. For the purposes of this section, the term "program or activity" means all of the operations of--

(1)(A) a department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or of a local government; or

(B) the entity of such State or local government that distributes such assistance and each such department or agency (and each other State or local government entity) to which the assistance is extended, in the case of assistance to a State or local government;

(2)(A) a college, university, or other postsecondary institution, or a public system of higher education; or

(B) a local educational agency (as defined in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 [20 USCS § 7801]), system of vocational education, or other school system;

(3)(A) an entire corporation, partnership, or other private organization, or an entire sole proprietorship--

(i) if assistance is extended to such corporation, partnership, private organization, or sole proprietorship as a whole; or
(ii) which is principally engaged in the business of providing education, health care, housing, social services, or parks and recreation; or
(B) the entire plant or other comparable, geographically separate facility to which Federal financial assistance is extended, in the case of any other corporation, partnership, private organization, or sole proprietorship; or

(4) any other entity which is established by two or more of the entities described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3);

any part of which is extended Federal financial assistance.

(c) Significant structural alterations by small providers. Small providers are not required by subsection (a) to make sig-nificant structural alterations to their existing facilities for the purpose of assuring program accessibility, if alternative means of providing the services are available. The terms used in this subsection shall be construed with reference to the regulations existing on the date of the enactment of this subsection [enacted March 22, 1988].

(d) Standards used in determining violation of section. The standards used to determine whether this section has been violated in a complaint alleging employment discrimination under this section shall be the standards applied under title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12111 et seq.) and the provisions of sections 501 through 504, and 510, of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12201-12204 and 12210), as such sections relate to employment.


  • (Sept. 26, 1973, P.L. 93-112, Title V, § 504, 87 Stat 394; Nov. 6, 1978, P.L. 95-602, Title I, § § 119, 122(d)(2), 92 Stat. 2982, 2987; Oct. 21, 1986, P.L. 99-506, Title I, § 103(d)(2)(B) in part, Title X, § 1002(e)(4), 100 Stat. 1810, 1844; March 22, 1988, P.L. 100-259, § 4, 102 Stat. 29; Nov. 7, 1988, P.L. 100-630, Title II, § 206(d), 102 Stat. 3312; Oct. 29, 1992, P.L. 102-569, Title I, Subtitle A, § 102(p)(32), Title V, § 506, 106 Stat. 4360, 4428; Oct. 20, 1994, P.L. 103-382, Title III, Part I, § 394(i)(2), 108 Stat. 4029.)
  • (As amended Aug. 7, 1998, P.L. 105-220, Title IV, § 408(a)(3), 112 Stat. 1203; Jan. 8, 2002, P.L. 107-110, Title X, Part G, § 1076(u)(2), 115 Stat. 2093.)