Category Archive Understanding Civil Rights

ByJon Roland

Understanding Civil Rights: Important Legislation That You Need to Know

The terrain of civil rights law has morphed repeatedly over time, particularly due to the fact that new civil rights violations are being addressed for the first time and prompting lawmakers to make important modifications to civil rights law. One instance of this is the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act’s passage not only barred establishments from segregating individuals based on race, color, sex or national origin, but also made it illegal to deny anybody from these groups employment opportunities because of these factors. Since the Civil Rights Act was initially passed, other considerations have been amended into policy. Age, disability and sexual orientation are now equally protected under civil rights law.

But the Civil Rights Act is not the only piece of legislation that has been drafted to ensure the rights of the United States’ citizens are not violated. Here are four other important pieces of civil rights legislation that you should know about.

The Age Discrimination Act of 1967 was enacted by President Lyndon B. Johnson and addresses age-related discrimination that was not addressed in the Civil Rights Act. This legislation makes age-based discrimination illegal, including in terms of pensions and benefits that employers offer to their staff.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 expands the protections afforded to disabled individuals. This act created the same protections for Americans with disabilities, as well as made it a requirement for employers to provide adequate and reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities in the workplace.

The Fair Housing Act was passed with the ambition of creating a fair housing market wherein one’s background cannot impede their ability to find a place to live. This act prevents homeowners from barring people from renting their properties on the basis of race, age, sex, religion, disability or nation of origin. The Fair Housing Act was initially enacted in 1968, with sex being added to the list of protected traits in 1974.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law to combat the discriminatory practices that many Southern states had adopted following the Civil War. Prior to this act’s passage, literacy tests, poll taxes and other restrictions kept minorities from having their voices heard at the polling station.

It is worth noting that these four initiatives are federally-applied actions. These do not relate to separate civil rights laws that individual states have passed for the protection of their citizens.