The term “civil rights” refers to an enforceable right to be treated fairly and to be free from discrimination or unjust treatment. If someone’s civil rights are violated, this violation gives the victim the right to take legal action to obtain compensation for harm. There are many different civil rights laws in the United States that apply on a federal level. Each state, including California, also has its own civil rights laws to protect its citizens from unfair treatment.
What are Civil Rights?
The U.S. Department of Human Services defines civil rights as: “personal rights guaranteed and protected by the U.S. Constitution and federal laws enacted by Congress, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.” Examples of Civil Rights can include:
- The right to freedom of speech.
- The right to vote.
- The right to due process of the law.
- The right to equal protection and to have the laws applied to you in a fair and impartial way.
- The right to be free from unlawful discrimination.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one of the most important examples of Civil Rights legislation in the country and it creates many civil rights for people throughout the United States. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees freedom from employment, housing and other types of discrimination on the basis of:
- National origin
Other Civil Rights laws on the federal level also protect against discrimination on the basis of disability status (The Americans with Disabilities Act) and age (The Age Discrimination in Employment Act).
How do Civil Rights Laws Protect California Workers?
Federal civil rights laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act apply to employers within the state of California. Under these laws, employers are not allowed to consider your protected status when making any decisions on the terms and conditions of your employment. Employers also may not considered your race, religion, national origin, color, gender, age or disability when deciding whether to hire you or to fire you.
California law goes further than federal law and also extends protection to people on the basis of sexual orientation. This means that while no federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against you if you are homosexual or transgendered, California law considers freedom from sexual orientation discrimination to be a civil right.
Workers are protected by these federal and state civil rights laws because they can make a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if they are discriminated against. The EEOC will investigate and can take action against employers. Civil rights laws protect California workers in another way as well. A worker can sue if he is the victim of unlawful discrimination or unjust practices in violation of his civil rights. The worker could obtain monetary compensation for losses and damages caused by the violation.
Both workers and employers need to understand how civil rights laws protect California workers. A San Diego, CA employment law attorney at Sepahi Law Group, APC can explain your rights and obligations to you and help you to take legal action. Call today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and learn more.