Civil Rights Laws
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed July 21, 2017
Civil rights laws guarantee rights for individuals to receive equal treatment and prohibits discrimination in a number of settings, including education, employment, housing, lending, voting, and more. Below is a list of federal civil rights laws. (Note: Many states have civil rights laws of their own which mirror those at the federal level, so your state may have its own laws that are very similar to those identified below. In addition, municipalities like cities and counties can enact ordinances and laws related to civil rights.)
- Age Discrimination Act of 1975 Prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance.
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) Prohibits employers from discriminating against workers and applicants who are 40 years of age and older, based on their age.
- Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (ACAA) Prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the provision of (including access to) air transportation.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Protects persons with disabilities from discrimination in many aspects of life, including employment, education, and access to public accommodations.
- Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 Requires that buildings and facilities designed, constructed, altered, or leased with certain federal funds after September 1969 must be accessible to and useable by handicapped persons.
- Civil Rights Act of 1964 Prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
- Civil Rights Act of 1991 (Intentional Employment Discrimination) To amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to strengthen and improve Federal civil rights laws, to provide for damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination, to clarify provisions regarding disparate impact actions, and for other purposes.
- Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act Protecting persons in institutions (including residents in government-run nursing homes, and prisoners) from unconstitutional conditions.
- Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act Provides for equitable and impartial relief operations, without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, or economic status.
- The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) Prohibits creditors from discriminating against credit applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because an applicant receives income from a public assistance program.
- Equal Pay Act of 1963 Requires that employers pay all employees equally for equal work, regardless of whether the employees are male or female.
- Fair Housing Act (FHA) Prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Gives employees the right to take time off from work in order to care for a newborn (or recently adopted) child, or to look after an ill family member.
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Ensuring that the rights of students with disabilities are protected, and that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education.
- National Voter Registration Act (NVRA)
Establishes procedures to increase the number of eligible citizens who register to vote in elections for national office.
- Older Workers' Benefit Protection Act Clarifies the protections given to older individuals in regard to employee benefit plans.
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act Prohibits employment discrimination against female workers who are (or intend to become) pregnant -- including discrimination in hiring, failure to promote, and wrongful termination.
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Protects disabled individuals from discrimination by employers and organizations that receive federal financial assistance.
- Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) Protect individuals, houses of worship, and other religious institutions from discrimination in zoning and landmarking laws; also protects the religious exercise of inmates and other persons confined to certain institutions.
- Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 Prohibits sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funds, to increase educational and athletic opportunities for females in schools and colleges nationwide.
- U.S. Code Title 42, Chapter 21 -- Civil Rights Title 42, Chapter 21 of the U.S. Code prohibits discrimination against persons based on age, disability, gender, race, national origin, and religion (among other things) in a number of settings -- including education, employment, access to businesses and buildings, federal services, and more. Chapter 21 is where a number of federal acts related to civil rights have been codified -- including the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.
- The U.S. Constitution | Articles | Amendments The U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1789, outlines the role and operation of government in the United States. Includes links to all articles and amendments, with annotations.
- Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) Prohibits the denial or restriction of the right to vote, and forbids discriminatory voting practices nationwide.
Have Your Civil Rights Been Violated? Talk to an Attorney
The United States civil rights laws have evolved over many years. These laws protect individuals at the federal, state, and local level. If you believe that you have been treated unfairly on the basis of your race, nationality, disability, or some other protected characteristic, then you should talk to an experienced attorney today. See FindLaw's attorney directory to find one near you.
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Contact a qualified civil rights attorney to help you protect your rights.