When we hear the term “civil rights,” we naturally think of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. or maybe the early women’s rights movement. And Wyoming holds a historical role in the women's suffrage movement. In 1869, the Wyoming Territory became the first government in the world to guarantee women the right to vote. The twenty-member Territorial Legislature approved a revolutionary measure stating:
"That every woman of the age of twenty-one years, residing in this Territory, may at every election to be holden under the law thereof, cast her vote."
Though some men of that era likely recognized the important role women played in frontier settlement, others voted for women’s suffrage only to bolster the strength of conservative voting blocks. In Wyoming, some men were also motivated by deep loneliness. In 1869, the territory had over 6,000 adult males and only 1,000 females, and area men hoped women would be more likely to settle in the rugged and isolated country if they were granted the right to vote.
Today, civil rights laws can apply to racial discrimination as well as fair housing, equal opportunity hiring, and gay marriage. So what exactly do modern day Wyoming civil rights laws cover? Where, and how, do they overlap federal civil rights statutes? And how can someone file a civil rights claim? This is a brief summary of civil rights laws in Wyoming.
Civil Rights Laws
Most civil rights laws exist at the federal level and refer to the collective rights of citizens to receive fair and equal treatment under the law. While most civil rights laws are derived from the Civil Rights Act of 1964, state statutes can mirror federal civil rights regulations and in some cases will provide greater protections against discrimination.
Civil Rights Laws in Wyoming
Wyoming’s civil rights laws are highlighted in the chart bellow, including pertinent code provisions, various different contexts, whether private civil rights actions are permitted, and applicable statutes of limitations.
|Code Section||27-9-101, et seq. (Employment)|
|Agency||Dept. of Employment|
|Private Action Permitted?||No|
|Attorney Fees Recoverable by Plaintiff?||No|
|Statute of Limitations||90 days|
Filing Civil Rights Claims
Each state’s civil rights protections are enforced by a state civil rights office. These commissions file lawsuits on behalf of citizens in an effort to or punish eliminate cases of discrimination under the state’s civil rights statutes. State commissions can handle complaints regarding discrimination in employment, housing, elder care, and more.
The Wyoming Department of Workfoce Services can answer your questions relating to discrimination in employment. Indeed, its webpage states that the Unemployment Insurance Division, for instance:
"... complies with all civil rights laws and regulations which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and political affiliation and belief. The division maintains an equal opportunity program with auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities."
If you or someone you know has had their civil rights violated, you should be aware of your options as well as the legal requirements when it comes to filing a civil rights claim.
Related Resources for Civil Rights Laws:
Navigating state and federal civil rights laws and determining the kinds of cases they cover is not an easy task. If you think you need legal assistance with a civil rights matter, you can contact Wyoming civil rights attorney near you and schedule a consultation to discuss your case. You can visit FindLaw’s Civil Rights section for more articles and resources on this topic.