In the United States, civil rights are derived from federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination, as well as from the Constitution of the United States and its Amendments.
Individuals violate civil rights through illegal discrimination. The government, or a person acting in a government capacity, violates civil rights when they deny or infringe freedom of speech, the press, religion, or the right to peacefully protest.
Civil rights violations occur when law enforcement conduct illegal searches and seizures or commit acts of brutality. Learn five common types of civil rights violations.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), coupled with court decisions enforcing these laws, prohibit discrimination in employment based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity or presentation, and pregnancy), age, or disability.
Refusal to hire someone, firing someone, subjecting someone to unequal working conditions, denying promotions, or violating equal pay provisions based on one of the “protected classes” listed above, is a civil rights violation.
The freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution include freedom of religion, including its “free exercise, freedom of speech and of the press, and freedom of assembly.”
Other amendments provide additional protections. They include:
Only governmental entities can violate civil rights bestowed by the Constitution.
The Education Amendments Act of 1972 (“Title IX” of the Civil Rights Act) makes it illegal to deny a person participation in, or the benefit of, education or other programs that receive federal funds, or to subject a person to other discrimination in those programs or activities based on sex.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 (“Title VIII”) prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and family status. A private property owner who refuses to sell a house or rent an apartment, or a lender that refuses to fund a mortgage based on one of these protected categories has committed a civil rights violation.
An all too common type of civil rights violation is police brutality. When police officers use excessive force, or commit sexual abuse like unlawful strip searches “under color of law,” they’re violating the victim’s civil right to equal protection under the law and due process. If you believe you have been sexually abused by law enforcement, contact a sexual misconduct lawyer.
The Law Firm of Tamara N. Holder, LLC represents victims of all forms of civil rights violations, including employment discrimination and sexual harassment.