Everyone has the right to be free from discrimination, whether in our outside of the workplace. Civil rights legislation generally prohibits discrimination in all spheres of public life, such as housing, healthcare, law enforcement, banking, and in other circumstances.
Knowing what you should do with discrimination outside of work can be tricky as there is no “one size fits all” process for filing a complaint or lawsuit. However, you do not have to work this out on your own. Morgan & Morgan can help. If you are the victim of illegal discrimination, our dedicated and committed discrimination lawyers are here to advise you. Contact us now to determine your options.
What Is a Protected Class?
Members of a protected class enjoy protection by federal and state laws designed to prevent them from being harmed by discriminatory policies or practices. Every person is a member of one or several protected classes such as age (40 or over), sex, or race. Illegal discrimination happens when an individual suffers disadvantages or is ill-treated due to:
- National Origin
- Genetic information
The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice enforces federal laws that protect individuals from unlawful discrimination. In addition to this federal agency, states also have their own anti-discrimination laws and agencies.
Laws Addressing Discrimination Outside of Work
The Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to discriminate against individuals based on their color, race, religion, national origin, or sex. The act is often mentioned in connection with employment laws but also covers discrimination legislation outside of work, in particular in regards to:
- Federally funded programs
- Voting rights
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA is a federal law prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The act covers employment, transportation, public accommodations, access to state and local government programs and services, and many other areas of life.
The Fair Housing Act
Under the Fair Housing Act, individuals should be treated equally regarding access to housing and must not be discriminated against due to their age, gender, color, race, or family status.
Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits discriminatory voting practices and is designed to remove any potential barriers discouraging ethnic minorities from voting.
Examples of Discrimination Outside of Work
It is a misconception that discrimination mainly occurs in the workplace. Discrimination can potentially happen anywhere and at any time, whether at the hospital, when applying for a mortgage, or when looking to rent an apartment. While there are clear procedures for those experiencing discrimination on the job, it can be tough to know what you should do with discrimination outside of the workplace. You may not even be sure whether you are experiencing illegal discrimination.
Examples of illegal discrimination and civil rights violations can include but are not limited to:
Discrimination in Healthcare
Under the Civil Rights Act, all persons have the right to receive healthcare and medical treatments without discrimination. No individual should be denied any services based on their race, color, disability, sex, or national origin. For example, it would be discrimination to deny a disabled patient the same medical treatment as another patient.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), potentially more than one in five adults in this country have experienced discrimination in healthcare. The most commonly reported type of discrimination was racial, followed by sex and age discrimination.
Discrimination in healthcare is not only wrong and upsetting; it can also have devastating consequences on a person’s health and well-being.
Every bank customer should receive the same treatment, regardless of their race, color, disability, or other protected class membership. However, the reality can look quite different. The simple act of cashing a check or opening a bank account can be problematic for African American and Latino bank customers. According to CNN, ethnic minority customers have had to endure racial profiling, racial slurs, refusals to cash their checks, and other instances of discrimination. Some even had the police called on them for no good reason.
According to the Chicago Tribune, blacks and Latinos continue to be denied mortgage loans at disproportionate rates compared to whites. The practice of “redlining”, which includes denying mortgages to creditworthy people of color based on where they live, started almost one hundred years ago.
Some argue that redlining still influences banking today. These days, however, those suffering from banking discrimination or mortgage refusal could have legal recourse. You should consult with a discrimination lawyer if you:
- Had your mortgage denied unfairly
- Had to accept higher mortgage rates than other bank customers
- Had your mortgage application denied for discriminatory reasons
The Fair Housing Act was designed to protect individuals from discrimination in a variety of situations, including:
- Buying a home
- Renting a home
- Getting a mortgage
- Seeking housing assistance
Landlords are unlawfully discriminating against individuals if they deny a rental or sale to a member of a protected class. When dealing with protected classes, landlords should not:
- Engage in discriminatory advertising
- Charge additional fees
- Change any contracts
- Limit the use of facilities
Discrimination Against Voters
Discrimination even extends into the voting booth. Individuals registered to vote experience illegal discrimination when treated differently based on their race, national origin, or for other reasons. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one in 13 African Americans cannot vote due to disenfranchisement laws in this country, contrasting with one in every 56 non-black voters unable to vote for the same reason.
The American Bar Association (ABA) recently identified voter discrimination in Georgia’s “exact match” voter ID system. The program suspends an individual’s voting status if their Social Security record or driver’s license does not exactly match the name on their voter registration form. Of all individuals affected by this law, a staggering 80 percent were African Americans.
Discrimination in Law Enforcement
Incidents of police discrimination can encompass false arrests, racial profiling, improper search and seizures, police brutality, verbal and physical abuse, and many others. However, racial disparities can also surface during the sentencing for crimes. According to the ACLU, African Americans are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, despite roughly equal use rates.
If you have been a victim of law enforcement discrimination, speaking to a discrimination attorney can help you learn about your legal rights and options for legal recourse.
Discrimination in the Hiring Process
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), discrimination in hiring is illegal. Employers must not discriminate against a job candidate because of their color, race, sex, religion, national origin, age (40 or older), genetic information, or disability. The following examples can constitute hiring process discrimination:
- Refusing to provide job applications to individuals of a certain race or color
- Mentioning a preference for a candidate of a certain sex, race, or age in a job advert, such as “females wanted”
- Tests in the application phase excluding members of a protected class
- Not providing reasonable accommodation for a disabled applicant
Compensation for Discrimination
Since the nature of discrimination lawsuits can vary immensely, there is no such thing as an average settlement. However, if you suffered financial and other losses due to illegal discrimination, you could potentially receive compensation such as:
- Wage losses
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Emotional distress
- Attorney’s fees and court costs
In some cases, if the defendant’s conduct was particularly malicious, you could also recover punitive damages. A discrimination attorney from our firm can analyze your specific circumstances and assess the potential worth of your case.