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Know Your Civil Rights

Warning: This page is provided solely for informational purposes. Readers are encouraged to seek advice from a licensed attorney regarding potential violations of any civil rights law.

Your Right To Be Treated Fairly and Without Discrimination in Restaurants, Stores, and Other Businesses

 

All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

- Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000a

 

Civil rights laws guarantee you the right to be treated fairly and without discrimination in all restaurants, stores, and businesses. If you have experienced discrimination, you may file a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, here.

What Does Discrimination Really Mean?

Discrimination refers to the treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.

- U.S. Legal

Federal Civil Rights Laws

Civil Rights Act of 1866

Guarantees certain inalienable rights to all people born in the U.S., including the right to make contracts, to own property, to sue in court, and to enjoy the full protection of federal law.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Title VII protection covers the full spectrum of employment decisions, including recruitment, selections, terminations, and other decisions concerning terms and conditions of employment.

Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act of 1968)

Protects individuals and families from discrimination in the sale, rental, financing, and advertising of housing. Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex, disability, family status, and national origin with particular emphasis on civil rights in the housing market.

Civil Rights Act of 1991

Strengthens the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by providing remedy for those who were the victims of employers where discrimination was more subtle, such as through a policy that was not discriminatory on its face, but had a disparate impact on certain groups.

State Civil Rights Laws

Your Right to Justice against Hate Crime

The [Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009] makes it a federal crime to willfully cause bodily injury, or attempt to do so using a dangerous weapon, because of the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin.

- The United States Department of Justice, 2021

 

Hate crimes are federally punishable. If you have been a victim of a hate crime, you may contact your local law enforcement department or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, here.

What is a Hate Crime?

A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.

- Federal Bureau of Investigation

Federal Laws

Criminal Interference with Right to Fair Housing, 42 U.S.C. § 3631

This statute makes it a crime to use or threaten to use force to interfere with housing rights because of the victim’s race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin.

 

Damage to Religious Property, Church Arson Prevention Act, 18 U.S.C. § 247

This statute prohibits the intentional defacement, damage, or destruction of religious real property because of the religious nature of the property, where the crime affects interstate or foreign commerce, or because of the race, color, or ethnic characteristics of the people associated with the property. The statute also criminalizes the intentional obstruction by force, or threat of force of any person in the enjoyment of that person’s free exercise of religious beliefs.

 

Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights, 18 U.S.C. § 245

This statute makes it a crime to use or threaten to use force to willfully interfere with a person’s participation in a federally protected activity because of race, color, religion, or national origin. Federally protected activities include public education, employment, jury service, travel, or the enjoyment of public accommodations. Under this statute, it is also a crime to use or threaten to use force against those who are assisting and supporting others in participating in these federally protected activities.

 

Conspiracy Against Rights, 18 U.S.C. § 241

This statute makes it unlawful for two or more persons to conspire to injure, threaten, or intimidate a person in any state, territory, or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to the individual by the U.S. Constitution or the laws of the U.S.

 

Source: Department of Justice

State Laws

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