What Is Civil Rights Law And How Do They Work In The United States?
Civil Rights are rights that are fundamental to a free society and to human dignity. Civil rights law in turn is a body of laws at the federal, state, and local levels that protect these fundamental rights, such as equality under the law and freedom from discrimination. Throughout the country, these laws exist to protect individuals from discrimination based on their race, color, sex, religion, age, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, genetic information and other protected characteristics and classes. These laws protect people under several different scenarios including employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and interactions with law enforcement and the government. Some examples of these laws on the federal level are the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the Equal Pay Act. In California, there is the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Bane Act, and the Ralph Act.
Some of our earliest civil rights laws came about when this country was fighting the Civil War. When President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he marked the beginning of civil rights legislation in the United States. In the following years, much of our early civil rights laws centered around the rights of black citizens, their equal treatment under the law, and their right to be free from harassment and discrimination. These fundamental civil rights were further expanded and codified with the passing of the Civil Rights act of 1964. The Civil Rights act of 1964 is the centerpiece of civil rights legislation in effect today and protects against discrimination on a variety of bases, such as sexual orientation, sex, skin color, and religion. More recently this list of protected classes has expanded. In the 1990s, George Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Americans with Disabilities Act codified a whole new set of laws that provides fundamental rights to disabled people. Today, we are seeing new civil rights laws, but we haven’t seen any major legislation since the Americans with Disability Act. The new legislation in consideration would establish the right to be free from sex trafficking and include protections against gender-related violence.
What Protections Under Civil Rights Laws Do People Have At The Federal Level And In California?
In California, the current centerpiece of our civil rights legislation is the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The Fair Employment and Housing Act is a law in California that guarantees people who apply for housing and who are in the workplace will be free from discrimination and harassment. California also has the Unruh Civil Rights law which states that prohibits any business from discrimination based on their religion, gender, skin color, and other protected characteristics.
What Protections Do Civil Rights Laws Offer A Disabled Person In California?
For many years there were no real protections for people with disabilities. The protections that did exist were extremely sparse and this meant people who were disabled were shut out of access to society. But in 1990, the federal government passed a law that was signed into action by George Bush called the Americans with Disabilities Act. That law was then later amended and expanded. Since then, it has been the centerpiece of legislation for people living with a disability. In California, we also have the Fair Employment and Housing Act with provides additional protections for disabled people.
California recognizes disability and medical conditions as a protected class and protected characteristic. In addition to the protections that disabled people receive under federal law, the pre-existing conditions and prohibitions against discrimination and harassment will apply to disabled people as well.
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