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Federal Civil Rights Offices

Civil rights protections come from various laws at the federal, state, and local levels. Many federal agencies and offices work to protect the civil rights of people in a broad range of areas.

Federal civil rights offices have many initiatives, including combating hate crimes and providing technical assistance to those seeking to understand and uphold civil rights laws. These offices are often charged with investigating and prosecuting civil rights violations and instances of discrimination. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) operates under the U.S. Attorney General in Washington, D.C. These offices have various tasks such as:

  • Working with law enforcement agencies
  • Raising awareness through press releases
  • Producing collaborative initiatives that promote inclusive societies

Explore the links below to learn more about each agency's work, your civil rights under federal law, and the complaint process.

List of Federal Government Civil Rights-Related Offices

U.S. Department of Justice Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) — This division of the justice department handles cases involving disability discrimination. It takes proactive initiatives to enforce the ADA and uphold the rights of people with disabilities.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Civil Rights Office — The FAA's Civil Rights Office represents and helps the FAA administrator on civil rights and equal opportunity matters. It seeks to ensure fairness and equal treatment on aviation-related issues.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights — The commission helps foster the development of national civil rights policy. It also helps enforce federal civil rights laws.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Civil Rights Office — The office enforces the civil rights of all USDA customers and employees.

U.S. Department of Education (DOE), Office for Civil Rights — The office helps resolve complaints of discrimination in education.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights —

The OCR helps to protect people in health care and social service programs from discrimination based on

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Age discrimination
  • Disability

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Fair Housing Civil Rights — The office enforces federal laws ensuring all people have equal access to housing.

U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Civil Rights — This office handles functions in the Department of the Interior, such as

  • Civil rights
  • Equal opportunity programs
  • Affirmative employment functions

U.S. Department of Labor, Civil Rights Enforcement for Department of Labor Grant Recipients — Enforces federal fair labor laws and fights discrimination in the workplace.

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Civil Rights (DOCR) — The office enforces civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination in transportation.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) —

People often turn to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in employment discrimination cases. The commission enforces federal laws making it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee based on the applicant or employee's:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation)
  • National origin
  • Age (40 or older)
  • Disability
  • Genetic information

For example, this agency upholds the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Rehabilitation Act protects disabled people from employment discrimination by entities getting federal financial assistance.You can get a complaint form through the EEOC's website. This complaint process safeguards people's constitutional rights. The process


a formal means of addressing discrimination complaints related to employment.

Overview of Civil Rights Laws

Here are a few essential federal civil rights laws in the United States:

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964


rohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in:

  • Employment
  • Education
  • Public accommodations
  • Federally funded programs

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 — This Act addresses racial discrimination in voting practices. It also ensures equal access to the voting process for all citizens.

Fair Housing Act of 1968 — Prohibits discrimination in housing.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) —

Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in various settings.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 — Prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities.

Protect Your Civil Rights

Have you experienced a civil rights violation? Whether you seek federal protection, state protection, or both, you need to know where to go for help. You should talk to an experienced attorney about ways to protect your rights.

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