Civil Rights and Discrimination Laws

Below is a list of federal laws that guarantee civil rights and prohibit discrimination in a number of settings, including links to the full texts of those laws. (Note: Many states have civil rights laws of their own which mirror those at the federal level, so your state may have its own laws that are very similar to those identified below. In addition, municipalities like cities and counties can enact ordinances and laws related to civil rights.)

  • Air Carrier Access Act of 1986
    Prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the provision of (including access to) air transportation.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    Protects persons with disabilities from discrimination in many aspects of life, including employment, education, and access to public accommodations.
  • Architectural Barriers Act of 1968
    Requires that buildings and facilities designed, constructed, altered, or leased with certain federal funds after September 1969 must be accessible to and useable by handicapped persons.
  • The Equal Credit Opportunity Act
    Prohibits creditors from discriminating against credit applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because an applicant receives income from a public assistance program.
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963
    Requires that employers pay all employees equally for equal work, regardless of whether the employees are male or female.
  • Fair Housing Act
    Prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act
    Gives employees the right to take time off from work in order to care for a newborn (or recently adopted) child, or to look after an ill family member.
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
    Ensuring that the rights of students with disabilities are protected, and that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education.
  • National Voter Registration Act
    Establishes procedures to increase the number of eligible citizens who register to vote in elections for national office.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act
    Prohibits employment discrimination against female workers who are (or intend to become) pregnant — including discrimination in hiring, failure to promote, and wrongful termination.
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973
    Protects disabled individuals from discrimination by employers and organizations that receive federal financial assistance.
  • Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
    Protect individuals, houses of worship, and other religious institutions from discrimination in zoning and landmarking laws; also protects the religious exercise of inmates and other persons confined to certain institutions.
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
    Prohibits sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funds, to increase educational and athletic opportunities for females in schools and colleges nationwide.
  • U.S. Code Title 42, Chapter 21 — Civil Rights
    Title 42, Chapter 21 of the U.S. Code prohibits discrimination against persons based on age, disability, gender, race, national origin, and religion (among other things) in a number of settings — including education, employment, access to businesses and buildings, federal services, and more. Chapter 21 is where a number of federal acts related to civil rights have been codified — including the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.
  • The U.S. Constitution | Articles | Amendments
    The U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1789, outlines the role and operation of government in the United States. Includes links to all articles and amendments, with annotations.
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965
    Prohibits the denial or restriction of the right to vote, and forbids discriminatory voting practices nationwide.