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Examples of Civil Rights

A set of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from infringement

Examples of Civil Rights

Civil rights are enforced by law to protect the freedoms which include the right for people to work, vote, study, live, eat, and stay wherever they choose. Civil rights laws ensure the fair treatment of groups that have traditionally been targets of discrimination (or protected classes).

The protected classes have a higher risk of infringing their civil rights, and these people share the following characteristics: age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, pregnancy, familial status, disability, and veteran status. Our government is responsible for protecting its citizens from discrimination in social structures such as employment, education, health care, housing, and more.

Human Rights vs. Civil Rights vs. Civil Liberties

Most people often confuse these three concepts. Below we delve deeper and explain these concepts in more detail.

Human Rights

The United Nations General Assembly signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on the 10th of December 1948. This Declaration was inspired and drafted as the world’s response to the atrocities committed during WWII as an attempt for us to ensure that these atrocities never happen again.

As per the UDHR, human rights are guaranteed God-given rights or natural rights that every human being possesses. Human rights are divided into seven fundamental principles: Universality, Inalienability, Interdependence and Indivisibility, Accountability, and Non-discrimination and Equality. 

Civil Rights

Civil rights are an extension of human rights and can’t be denied to a citizen by a group, institution, or society. However, civil rights are given by the state, as written in the state’s constitution. For this reason, civil rights differ significantly per country. These rights also adapt over time based on the state’s societal trends and changes. Governments determine these rights based on these by either condoning or prohibiting certain civil rights. Nations have the right to choose how they define or respond to civil rights within their borders.

In the United States, the Civil Rights Movement that started in 1940 brought forth many changes. Below are landmarks in the development and improvement of American civil rights:

  • President Harry Truman made history by ending segregation in 1948 in the Armed Forces. 
  • In 1957, the Civil Rights Act was signed by President Dwight Eisenhower, which empowered the Justice Department and federal officials to prosecute anyone who conspired to deny another citizen’s right to vote. 
  • In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act that prohibited discrimination based on age, race, gender, religion, national origin, pregnancy, familial status, disability, and veteran status. It ended segregation in public places, schools, and public facilities and made employment discrimination illegal. This Act (under Title VII) also applies today to the employment discrimination of LGBTs based on sexual orientation. 
  • In 1975 an amendment was applied to the Older Americans Act of 1965 to include the Age Discrimination Act, discrimination based on age illegal.
  • In 1978 the Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibited employment discrimination, wrongful termination, or failure for promotion against pregnant women or women intending to become pregnant.
  • In 1990 the Disabilities Act prohibited discrimination on the basis of a disability.

Civil Liberties

Civil liberties are defined as the freedoms we as Americans are entitled to based on our Bill of Rights, Constitution, and democracy (examples include):

  • The freedom of speech.
  • The freedom for peaceful assembly and protest.
  • The freedom of choice of religion.
  • The freedom to vote.
  • The freedom to due process and a fair court trial.
  • The right to employment.
  • The right to education.
  • The right to pursue happiness.

Examples of Civil Rights

Civil rights are related to how we as citizens are treated by others, the government, and institutions. Most civil rights violations are when discrimination takes place against individuals based on their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, pregnancy, familial status, disability, and veteran status in certain areas. A violation of your civil rights typically has adverse consequences. Below are some examples of civil rights infringements in specific areas:

  1. Service:
    • When you’re refused service in a restaurant and the waiter or management.
  2. Employment:
    • When you’re refused employment 
    • When you’ve passed for a raise.
    • Being passed for a promotion, raise, or training. Getting paid lower wages than coworkers. 
    • Getting assigned fewer responsibilities.
    • Getting assigned more responsibilities or transferring duties.
    • Having to endure inappropriate comments.
    • Being demoted.
    • Getting fired.
  3. Education
    • When you’re refused education.
  4. Sexual Harassment
    • Requests to give sexual favors.
    • Receiving unwelcome sexual advances.
    • Getting offensive remarks about your sexual orientation or gender.
  5. Housing
    • Denial of rental applications.
    • Denial of homeowners’ insurance.
    • Denial of mortgages.









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