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Race Discrimination Basics

Race discrimination occurs when a member of a racial group is subjected to different or unequal treatment ("discrimination") in any number of situations, when that treatment is based on the individual's race.

Where and When Can Race Discrimination Occur?

Race discrimination can take place in many different settings, but typically occurs most often in the following situations:

Employment - Including claims that an employer failed to hire, failed to promote, or wrongfully terminated an employee based on his or her race; and claims for racial harassment of employees.

Education - Including claims for exclusion from educational programs or opportunities based on race, denial of admissions based on race, and racial harassment of students.

Housing - Including claims for refusal to negotiate with a person seeking housing, imposition of different lease/contract terms (or "redlining"), and refusal to extend a loan based on the race of the applicant/tenant/buyer.

Access to Buildings and Businesses - Including claims that a business failed to properly accommodate/serve a customer based on his or her race.

Borrowing / Credit - Including claims for refusal to extend credit, claims for imposition of unequal loan terms, and claims arising from improper inquiries during the credit/loan approval process, based on the race of the applicant.

Voting - Including claims for denial of access to polling places, racially discriminatory voter qualification/eligibility requirements, and claims for "dilution" of votes through racially discriminatory redistricting practices.

Police Misconduct - Including claims for racial profiling, and claims for criminal civil rights violations such as use of excessive force.

(Note: race discrimination claims can also involve National Origin Discrimination, especially when the discrimination victim was born outside of the United States.)

Laws Prohibiting Race Discrimination

Most laws guaranteeing and regulating civil rights (including laws prohibiting race discrimination) originate at the federal level, through federal legislation (such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964). Civil rights have also been defined and interpreted through federal court decisions (such as those handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court). States also pass their own civil rights laws (usually very similar to those at the federal level), and even municipalities like cities and counties can enact ordinances and laws related to civil rights and race discrimination.

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Race Discrimination: Getting a Lawyer's Help

If you believe you have suffered a civil rights violation because of your race, the best place to start is to speak with an experienced Civil Rights Attorney. Important decisions related to your case can be complicated -- including which laws apply to your situation, who may be responsible for any harm you suffered, and how to prove that those responsible acted with an intent to discriminate against you based on your race. A Civil Rights Attorney will evaluate all aspects of your case and explain all options available to you, in order to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified civil rights attorney
to help you protect your rights.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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