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Constitutional Rights List: Know Your Rights

A set of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from infringement

Constitutional Rights List: Know Your Rights

Everyone in the United States has civil and Constitutional rights. Continue reading to learn more about what your rights are under the law, how you can exercise your rights, and what you should do when your Constitutional rights are violated. This article will focus on the right to freedom of religion.

There are many social structures where your freedom of religion may be infringed. Below are the main areas with brief examples and what you can do when you experience discrimination:

Work

According to VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers with 15 staff members or more are prohibited from discrimination based on religion. There are state and local laws that also have specific anti-discrimination laws. Federal, government, or state institutions have additional laws that pertain to freedom of religion. If asked, your employer must make reasonable accommodations for your religious practices (as long as they don’t interfere with safety protocols or impose considerable costs).

If you feel that your freedom of religion constitutional rights are being violated, you can file a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You may also need to file a complaint with your local state agency. For more information, you can contact the ACLU in your state.

Housing

The Federal Fair Housing Act protects your religious freedom and prohibits the discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of homes. There are, however, some exceptions. For instance, in cases of owner-occupied and small buildings). The Act prohibits the inclusion of any religious discriminatory terms and conditions (e.g. less favorable or being charged more). Local state laws also provide additional protections. You can’t be denied accommodations based on your religion or religious practices. Lastly, your neighbors can’t harass, threaten, or intimidate you and your family.

You may file a Fair Housing Complaint Online complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. You may also need to file a complaint with your local state agency. For more information, you can contact the ACLU in your state.

Public Schools

There are many laws that govern your freedom of religion at public schools. Laws include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Schools are prohibited from incorporating religious activities (like prayer) into school events (football games, assemblies, and award ceremonies).
  • All staff may not participate in religious activities with students when acting in their official capacity.
  • Officials may not approve, facilitate, or encourage religious activities.
  • Officials may not impose their personal faith or teach or preach religious doctrine (e.g. creationism or Christianity).
  • Officials may not read religious scripture or ask students to read religious scripture without a secular academic reason to do so.
  • Schools may not invite guests to promote and preach religious doctrines (during events or the school day).
  • Schools may not display religious symbols (to signal support) on school grounds without a secular academic reason to do so.

Suppose your freedom of religion rights have been violated in your school. In that case, you can file a direct complaint with the US Department of Justice and Civil Rights Division or the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education using the OCR Electronic Complaint Form. You may also need to file a complaint with your local state agency. For more information, you can contact the ACLU in your state.

Bottom Line

We are responsible for protecting the civil rights of everyone in the US. There are many more instances and places where your freedom of religion rights may have been violated. For instance:

  • At US border and airport crossings.
  • At US businesses.
  • At your house of worship.
  • In prison.

You can go to the ACLU in your state to find out more.

Sources:

https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/religion.cfm

https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/qa_religious_garb_grooming.cfm

https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/14religion

https://www.justice.gov/crt/combating-religious-discrimination-and-protecting-religious-freedom-5

https://www.aclu.org/issues/religious-liberty/religion-and-public-schools

https://www.aclu.org/issues/religious-liberty/religion-and-public-schools/prayer-and-proselytizing-school

https://www.aclu.org/issues/religious-liberty/religion-and-public-schools/free-exercise-public-schools

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/religion.html

https://www.justice.gov/crt/combating-religious-discrimination-and-protecting-religious-freedom-20

https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights

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