Civil rights laws in the United States exist to enforce fairness because, unfortunately, people don’t always play fair without strong encouragement. These laws hold that certain social opportunities and considerations should be the same for everyone regardless of what they look like or where they come from.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the first major legislative change for civil rights laws in the 20th century. These laws demonstrated that separate was no longer equal by taking an all-inclusive approach focused on preventing discrimination based on certain specific characteristics that can be used to distinguish people.
But just because laws change doesn’t mean that the beliefs people hold will change. Even 50 years later, racial tensions are an ongoing source of civil rights violations. In recent years, many wonder whether we are actually moving backward in terms of how we interact with each other.
At Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation, we believe everyone deserves respect as a person. Our California-based civil rights attorneys enforce civil rights laws to ensure our clients receive the fair treatment that they are entitled to.
History of Modern Civil Rights Laws
President John F. Kennedy had introduced comprehensive civil rights reform in June of 1963, but it was President Lyndon B. Johnson that pushed hard to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed in the following year.
Passage of the sweeping reform legislation was the culmination of lesser attempts at change that began in earnest following the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision 10 years earlier in Brown v. Board of Education that declared racially segregated schools to be unconstitutional.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 paved the way for similar reforms regarding voting, housing, and the treatment of persons with disabilities.
Laws Guaranteeing Civil Rights Protection
The federal civil rights laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of national origin, race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, and genetic information.
California has its own version of anti-discrimination laws and has an expanded and non-exclusive list of protected characteristics. The Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against persons by private or public businesses as well as government entities on the basis of:
- National origin
- Medical condition
- Genetic information
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Primary language
- Immigration status
Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?
That is the million-dollar question. Despite a very clear intention on the part of lawmakers to force people to at least tolerate each other for having differing characteristics, civil rights violations – particularly racially motivated violations – persist.
According to the Public Policy Institute of California, about 85% of Californians believe racism is a problem today. 4 out of 10 Californians report personally experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment because of their race or ethnicity.
What it Really Comes Down To
Civil rights violations will continue to take place until people are able to treat each other with respect and fairness despite personal differences. In the meantime, those who have experienced violations of their civil rights have recourse under both state and federal laws to seek enforcement of their rights and recovery for their damages.
The California-based civil rights lawyers at Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation know that discrimination and civil rights violations occur frequently and often go unreported due to fear of retaliation or other negative consequences. We empower people to stand up to those who have violated their civil rights and send the message that discrimination is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Call our office at 818-783-5757 to schedule a free consultation or contact us here.