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Laws Against Discrimination in the USA

Laws against discrimination in the USA

Laws against discrimination act as the pillar on which the society of a country is built upon. It’s been a few weeks since a violent racial discrimination crime involving an African American man, George Floyd. came into light in the USA.  The incident not only went viral on social media platforms but also drew attention to past crimes with a racial factor to them.

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Since Floyd’s death, there have been silent protests across Minneapolis, New York, Denver, Atlanta, LA, Phoenix, and other cities. However, the silent protests soon took a violent turn. Videos showing looting, vandalism, and fires in the area of the demonstrations have gone viral on social media where the riot police were seen using tear gas, rubber bullets on protesters.

Here is a list of Laws in the USA Designed to Prevent Discrimination:

Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 1791

The Act Came into Effect On 15th December 1791

About the Act: This amendment was part of the Bill of Rights that was added to the United States Constitution. This amendment specifies the rights people have when they have been accused of a crime. They include:

  • Right to a Fair and Speedy Public Trial
  • Right to have an Impartial Jury
  • A Notice of Accusation
  • A Confrontation of Witnesses
  • The Right to a Lawyer.

Equal Pay Act, 1963

The Act Came into Effect On- 10th June 1963

About the Act: This law was passed amending the Fair Labour Standards Act, 1938. The amended act prohibits discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into action in 1963.

The Civil Rights Act, 1964

The Act Came into Effect On- 2nd July 1964

About the Act: President Lyndon Johnson made the Civil RIghts Act effective in 1964. It is a landmark piece of legislation for civil rights and labor laws in the US. It prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Additionally, it also prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations. However, this act was further amended in the year 1991 and expanded the remedies available to victims of discrimination.

Voting Rights Act, 1965

The Act Came into Effect On- 6th August 1965

About the Act: The Voting Rights Act is another landmark piece of federal legislation that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. Notably, the Civil Rights Act, 1964 and the Voting Rights Act, 1965 together removed barriers to black enfranchisement in the South, banning poll taxes, literacy tests, and other measures that prevented African Americans from casting their votes.

Fair Housing Act, 1968

The Act Came into Effect On- 11th April 1968

About the Act: This Act prohibits discrimination in the buying, selling, renting, advertising or financing of housing based on race, skin color, sex, nationality, religion, disability, and children or any other characteristics from a protected class. The enforcement of this act, especially, helps limit discriminatory practices related to landlords, tenants, and housing.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 1974

The Act Came into Effect On- 28th October 1974

About the Act: This Act ensures that all legal individuals get an equal opportunity to obtain loans from banks and other financial organizations. Consequently, the Act makes it unlawful for any creditor to discriminate against any applicant based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age.

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 1988

The Act Came into Effect On- 23rd November 1988

About the Act: The USA legislation passed this act in 1988. Currently, it is widely known as the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. It helps enforce equitable and impartial relief operations, without discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sex, age, or economic status.

Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990

The Act Came into Effect On- 26th July 1990

About the Act: ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. Naturally, it has similar protections to citizens as included in the Civil Rights Act, 1964 that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. However, the Act includes both mental and physical medical conditions. The Act recognizes the following physical conditions as disability:

  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • An intellectual disability
  • Partially or completely missing limbs
  • Mobility impairments that require the use of a wheelchair
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy

Homeless Bill of Rights, 2013

The Act Came into Effect On- 1st October 2013

About the Act: This legislation protects the civil and human rights of homeless people. A large chunk of the homeless population in the USA includes people of color. However, this Act aims to protect the interests of all homeless people, regardless of the color of their skin. Additionally, it affirms their equal rights to medical care, free speech, free movement, voting, employment opportunities, and privacy.

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Although America has made significant progress in recent decades in eliminating discrimination, it still has a long way to go. As citizens, we need to acknowledge discrimination and fix discriminatory attitudes deeply embedded in society. Additionally, every citizen must be provided equal opportunities, access, and justice irrespective of their race, color, sex, or national origin. Sadly, half a century later, this still remains a work in progress in the United States. As American Politician Edward Moore Kennedy said, “Civil rights is still the unfinished business of America.”. By remembering the past and acknowledging the present, America vigorously marches forward toward the future hoping to realize the promise they make in their founding documents: to achieve equal opportunity and justice for all.

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by Kavitha Iyer

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