Civil rights protect individuals from unfair treatment in many areas of society, including employment, housing, health care, religion, voting, and public accommodations. They are a very important set of broad-based rights; civil rights refer to the effort to advance individuals access to equal opportunities regardless of race or color, age, disability, or other certain protected characteristics. Civil rights laws are designed to safeguard individuals against discrimination.
On the federal level, civil rights laws stem mainly from federel legislation and include laws such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act (FHA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). Court decisions, especially the decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, have also developed civil rights on the federal level. Additionally, state and local ordinances and state constitutions also protect individuals from discrimination.
Discrimination occurs in various forms and can strike in numerous ways depending on the specific situation. For example, a woman may be suffering from general gender discrimination when her employer targets her and other female employees at the workplace by assigning them duties that the male collegues do not have to perform. Then when the woman informs her employer that she is pregnant and her duties change due to this development, she may suffer from discrimination on the basis of her pregnancy in addition to the potential gender discrimination that she and her female colleagues are experiencing. Although these forms of discrimination are related, different laws address the needs of these various discrimination types.
Below you'll find links to information and resources on the different areas of civil rights laws as well as the many forms discrimination may take. Explore the links to learn more about your rights, the types of prohibited discrimination, and what to do if you have been the victim of discrimination.
Typically we associate discrimination and civil rights violations with familiar groups of protected classes based on race, gender, disability, religion, and national origin. Obviously, these groups are greatly impacted by discrimination. As you can see from this reference list, a person can quickly transition into a protected status depending on their situation and depending on the protection of the civil rights laws available to them.
Preserve your Civil Rights with an Attorney's Help
Have you been mistreated on your job because of your religion or national origin? Are you applying for credit and are getting denied because you receive public assistance? Because there are so many different forms of discrimination, it is difficult to determine if and when your civil rights have been violated. Help to preserve them by talking to an attorney who is familiar with discrimination law.