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The Civil Rights Act

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 established many of the employment, housing, and federal anti-discrimination laws that now protect U.S. citizens. This set of protections cover several different kinds of discrimination, the most familiar of which are discrimination by race, sex, religion, and national origin. The Civil Rights Act is also responsible for the equal treatment of Americans regardless of age, disability, or pregnancy, and is a key reason behind the creation of affirmative action plans.

Some of the most important protections made possible by the Civil Rights Act are made possible by Title VII or employment discrimination laws. These laws ensure that people are treated fairly regardless of race, sex, gender, and other factors, and that these factors do not affect a person's ability to get a job, obtain a promotion, or work in a harassment-free environment. Further, federal employment discrimination laws mandate that citizens are entitled to equal pay under the EDA and equal opportunity under the age discrimination (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Acts (ADA).

Housing rights are also protected under the Fair Housing Act, which forbids housing discrimination on the basis of race, creed, age, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, familial status (having children) or physical or mental handicap. Family status discrimination is an especially common and problematic form of discrimination when housing is involved, but FHA laws demand equal treatment and consideration for pregnant women, families with children, and people in the process of getting custody for children.

What Is Title VII Of The Civil Rights Act?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.
In regards to hiring practices, discriminatory standards cannot be used in recruitment advertising, interviewing, or choosing who to hire based on any characteristic protected by this section.

Discrimination can also be based on one's own home life. For example, expectant mothers, parents with young children, or people who provide care at home for a sick spouse or aging parent cannot be discriminated against in the workplace. This type of discrimination is also called family responsibility discrimination, and it can be the basis for harassment, being passed over for a promotion, demoted, terminated, or not being hired at all.

An employer cannot discriminate based on a person's personal home life and caregiving responsibilities. An example of this type of discrimination in the workplace would be when an employer discriminates against a lactating mother by denying breaks and private spaces to pump breast milk.

Why Is Title VII Important?

This law is considered to be one of the most powerful civil rights laws that are in place today because it provides protection for more classes than any other federal law. Title VII helps people gain employment or keep the job they already have.

In addition, the Civil Rights Act also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC to help with the administration and enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. The EEOC is the vehicle that allows employees to file complaints of discrimination against an employer. The EEOC will then investigate the complaint and determine whether there is a basis for action against an employer.

Do Felons Lose Their Rights After a Conviction?

A person who is convicted of a felony crime, either a federal crime or state crime, is considered to be a felon. Misdemeanor convictions are not felonies and thus persons convicted of those crimes are not considered felons.

Felony convictions usually result in jail sentences, additional state supervision after release from jail in the form of probation or parole and the loss of certain civil rights and privileges.

What Rights Do Felons Lose After Conviction?

Depending on the state, you can expect to lose the following civil rights:

  1. Right to vote in local, state, or federal elections;
  2. Right to serve on a civil or criminal jury either in your state or in the federal courts;
  3. Right to hold a public office in your state; and/or
  4. Right to own or possess a firearm.

In many states, you may lose your privilege to obtain a state issued driver's license regardless if you had one prior to your conviction.

When is a Felon Eligible for Restoration of at Least Some of Their Rights?

This depends on the state in which your convicted or whether your conviction is a federal one. Each state has their own process for deciding whether some or none of the listed rights and privileges are restored for a felony conviction.

  • After Release from Jail: some states allow rights such as voting and obtaining a driver's license, to be restored immediately.
  • After Sentence has been Completed: some states require that the full sentence be fulfilled such as satisfactorily completing any supervised probation or parole before any rights are restored.
  • Expunging the Conviction: can restore most, if not all, of your civil rights if your conviction is eligible.
    • You must file for this relief and have a court order removing the conviction to properly restore your rights.

  • Receiving an Official Pardon: from either the President, if a federal conviction, or the Governor of your state, if a state conviction, can successfully restore all of your civil rights and privileges.

Are Any of the Rights Lost Automatically Restored for a Felon?

Automatic restoration of your rights can occur if you receive a full pardon for your crime or your conviction is successfully expunged from your record. However, you may still have to register to vote or apply for a new license after restoration.

For other restoration processes in your state, you may have to submit additional documentation such as:

  • A certified  court record showing completion of parole or probation;
  • Documentation of completion of certain rehabilitation programs such as drug/alcohol or mental health treatment; and/or
  • Proof that the statutory time limit passed for having a clean record before applying for restoration.

How Do I Restore My Gun Rights After Being Convicted of a Felony?

Firearm rights are strictly regulated by both the federal government and each state and continue to change each year. Convicted felons are one group of individuals that are highly controversial in the ongoing debate of gun rights.

As a result, there can be many laws and sources that you must check to see if you qualify for firearm ownership or even simply possessing a firearm. Failing to comply with the regulations could result in a new criminal charge of unlawfully possessing or owning a firearm as a felon.

The following methods may allow you to be eligible again for gun ownership or possession:

  1. Full pardon of your crime by the President or Governor depending on the jurisdiction that convicted you; and/or
  2. Expungement or expunction of the conviction that prohibited you from possessing or owning a gun.

Some crimes, whether they are a felony or not, may prohibit you from owning or possessing a gun regardless of whether you successfully completed your sentence such as violent crimes, sexual offenses, and domestic violence.

How Do I Restore My Voting Rights After Being Convicted of a Felony?

You may be eligible for restoration of your voting rights by completing your sentence or even just being released from jail depending on the state's law. You may still be required to register, however. Some states prohibit felons from voting unless you qualify for a pardon or by expunging your conviction.

How Do I Restore My Jury Rights After Being Convicted of a Felony?

Restoring your right to sit on a jury is usually similar to the voting right restoration in most states. It's important to check your local laws before you start the process, as you may already have your rights restored depending on the circumstances and the laws of your state.

How Do I Restore My Driver's License Privileges After Being Convicted of a Felony?

Obtaining a driver's license is one of the easiest to restore after you are released from jail. Depending on the state, you may be eligible either after release or after completion of your sentence and compliant with all driver's license requirements.

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