There are many federal laws against discrimination. They were passed to protect people who, because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability, are denied their rights.
Discrimination might occur when an individual attempts to vote; rent or buy a home; use a public facility; obtain a job, an education, or a bank loan; or do many other things.
Discrimination is illegal when an individual is denied an opportunity or a service based on:
- race, which is generally understood to be membership in a racial group. Depending on which law is involved, membership in an ethnic group can also constitute race;
- color, which refers to a person’s actual skin shade, and may constitute a separate discrimination factor regardless of the person’s race;
- sex, which refers to gender;
- religion, which refers to a person’s religious beliefs and practices, or lack thereof, or a person’s membership in a religious group;
- national origin, which refers to an individual’s country of origin, the origin of an individual’s ancestors, or the physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a particular nationality. This includes characteristics such as last name, accent, and cultural heritage;
- age, which refers to persons aged 40 or over; or
- disability, which refers to physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities of an individual.
Complaint Referral Service
The United States Commission on Civil Rights does not act as an advocate for complainants or respondents in claims of discrimination, nor does it have enforcement powers. However, the Commission can assist you in the complaint process by helping to place you in contact with the appropriate office for obtaining information. In addition to providing information specific to your situation, the referred office will be able to further assist you in the event you decide to initiate a discrimination complaint.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
1-800-552-6843 or (202) 376-8513
Hearing Impaired: 1-800-877-8339
You may also find the Commission publication(s) listed below helpful:
Getting Uncle Sam to Enforce Your Civil Rights
This publication provides useful information on how, when, and where to file a complaint. It includes additional information for special circumstances where a person might lack citizenship, be a Native American, be a member of the military, or be institutionalized. It also lists contact information for federal agency regional, district, and local civil rights offices; selected private organizations; and state bar associations.
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