It is impossible to overstate the importance of civil rights, which the US Constitution protects. Civil rights comprise legal statutes relating to equality and individual freedoms.
Human rights are slightly different because they apply to all people, regardless of where they live, and were adopted by the United Nations in 1948 following the Second World War. Although the distinction can be tricky to unpack, knowing the difference is important if you need to hire the best civil rights lawyer for your case and require a specialist in this area of US law.
How Are Civil and Human Rights Different?
The contrast between civil and human rights is primarily a jurisdictional one.
All citizens of the world are entitled to basic human rights, such as the right to live, vote, receive a fair trial, and participate in their chosen religion. Civil rights depend on the laws or constitutions of the specific country, which can vary greatly.
Countries are not permitted, via international law, to intentionally deprive individuals of their human rights, but that doesn’t mean their civil liberties will be equal. International courts and lawmakers can intervene if they suspect a government fails to enforce human rights, but civil freedoms are down to the national legal system.
What Civil Rights Are Covered by US Law?
A civil right is your entitlement or privilege protected by the law–a breach of those rights can be a prosecutable offense or give rise to a valid compensation claim. Several pieces of US federal legislation defend civil rights, including:
- The Fair Housing Act (FHA)
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The concept is that every American must be treated equally, without discrimination based on their religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, age, heritage, or any other factor.
Examples of Civil Rights Violations
While the scope of civil rights is broad, any scenario where your rights have been breached may be a legal violation. For example:
- You receive a lower salary for the same role as a colleague because of your gender or religion.
- Your child is forced to participate in prayers or religious ceremonies at school, which they do not believe in.
- You are refused an employment position because of your age.
- You are turned down for a rental property because the landlord will not rent to a same-sex couple.
Most civil rights breaches occur in public service settings or an employment environment–and can include many circumstances.
Do I Need a Human Rights or a Civil Rights Attorney?
Most civil rights cases need to be pursued by a qualified lawyer with appropriate experience with the specific laws in your country and state. For example, if you feel you have been dismissed unfairly from employment in the US, a human rights expert will be unable to help.
What is considered unfair treatment in the workplace? This might include being denied a promotion due to discrimination, offensive behaviors, or being fired in unreasonable circumstances.
Human rights can be a difficult-to-navigate area of the law, and attorneys in this field advocate for victims of violations and petition for changes to the legal structure where applicable. If you believe your civil or human rights have been violated, an attorney at Strom Law Firm can help.