Civil Rights - Overview
Civil Rights are personal rights guaranteed and protected by law. These laws ensure people with certain characteristics, such as race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., are not discriminated against when attempting to perform specific activities or receive certain benefits.
What personal characteristics, activities, and benefits are protected?
Protected status differs from state to state but there are some characteristics, activities, and benefits that are more common than others. Below are lists of the most common protected characteristics and activities.
The protected characteristics include:
- National origin (where you were born or where you are from),
- Disability status,
- Familial status,
- Gender identity, and
- Sexual orientation
*There may be more characteristics included depending on what state you live in.
Some protected activities and benefits include:
- Housing (renting or buying),
- Public benefits,
- Employment, and
Potential Civil Rights Violations:
Like protected characteristics, Civil Rights Violations also differ from state to state. However, there are many violations that states share. Below is a list of those common violations.
Examples of Potential Civil Rights Violations Include:
- Fired, not hired, or demoted for reasons unrelated to job performance or qualifications.
- Denied reemployment or fired based on military service.
- Retaliated against for reporting discrimination.
- Inappropriately asked to provide immigration documentation.
- Denied housing, a permit, or a loan based on personal characteristics like race, sex, and/or having children under 18 years old.
- Denied an accommodation for a disability, including not being allowed to have a service animal.
- Harassment by a landlord or another tenant, including sexual harassment.
- Harassment based on race, sex, national origin, disability, or religion.
- Denied admission or segregated in an education program or activity.
- Denied educational accommodations for a disability or language barrier.
- Obstacles to registering to vote, obtaining, or submitting a ballot, having your ballot counted, or entering a polling place to vote.
- Denied adequate voting assistance or accommodations for a disability at a polling place.
- Restricted or prevented from participating in an election, including voting, becoming a candidate, or being elected for office
- A physical or online location that does not provide disability accommodations.
- Denied service or entry because of a perceived personal characteristic like race, sex, or religion.
- Threatened or harassed while seeking or receiving reproductive health services.
Federal Websites That Can Help You File A Complaint:
General Civil Rights complaint report page with DOJ: https://civilrights.justice.gov/
US Commission on Civil Rights: https://www.usccr.gov/filing/
Service members Rights: https://www.justice.gov/servicemembers
EEOC for Employment complaints: https://publicportal.eeoc.gov/Portal/Login.aspx
Department of Education Civil Rights Complaint Forms: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html
State Civil Rights Resources/Webpages:
Arkansas: Housing: https://www.fairhousing.arkansas.gov/submit-a-complaint/ Workplace: https://www.workplacefairness.org/file_AR
New Hampshire: https://www.nh.gov/hrc/
New Jersey: https://www.nj.gov/oag/dcr/index.html
New York: https://dhr.ny.gov/
North Carolina: https://www.nc.gov/agency/human-relations-commission
North Dakota: https://www.nd.gov/labor/human-rights
South Dakota: https://dlr.sd.gov/human_rights/default.aspx
Wyoming: Housing Discrimination complaints are filed with HUD in its Denver, Colorado office: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaint
Last updated July 2020