The rights of individuals to be treated equally under the law are collectively referred to as civil rights. Civil rights are primarily enforced by the federal government, particularly anti-discrimination laws that protect marginalized populations such as racial minorities, women, and the disabled. While federal civil rights protections apply to residents throughout the U.S., state laws often provide additional protections. For instance, a growing number of states list gays and lesbians as a protected class.
A protected class is a characteristic -- such as a disability or skin color -- that cannot be targeted for discrimination.
What are Alabama's Civil Rights Protections?
For the most part, Alabama relies on federal civil rights protections that prohibit discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodation. Employers, landlords, lenders, and others covered by federal civil rights law may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, gender, citizenship status, genetic information, or age.
However, Alabama civil rights law differs from federal law when it comes to age discrimination in the workplace. The Alabama Age Discrimination in Employment Act (AADEA) is very similar to its federal counterpart, but employees are allowed to file a private lawsuit without first filing an EEOC complaint.
Additional provisions of Alabama civil rights laws can be found in the following table. See FindLaw's Discrimination section for more articles and resources.
|Code Section||25-1-20, et seq.(Age); 24-8-1, et seq. (Housing)|
|Agency||Age: Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs|
|Private Action Permitted?||Yes|
|Attorney Fees Recoverable by Plaintiff?||Age: Yes; Housing: Discretionary|
|Statute of Limitations||Age: 300 days; Housing: 180 days with agency; 1 yr. private actions|
Note: State laws are constantly changing, usually through the passage of new legislation, rulings from higher court judges, or voter approval of ballot initiatives. You may want to contact an Alabama civil rights attorney or employment lawyer, or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
How Do I File a Discrimination Claim in Alabama?
Since Alabama does not have a general anti-discrimination statute, unlike most other states, you will need to file your claim with the EEOC (for employment claims) or the U.S. Dept. of Justice (for ADA or other claims). For age discrimination, you will want to speak with an Alabama civil rights or employment attorney.
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Alabama Civil Rights Laws: Related Resources