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Police Misconduct/Prisoner Rights




Employment Discrimination





For most of our nation’s history, employees had virtually no rights vis-à-vis employers other than what was put into an individual written employment agreement or a union contract. To this day, in fact, with a few important exceptions, most employees are governed by the “at-will” doctrine of employment, according to which an employer can hire, fire, or demote an employee for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all. However, beginning in 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, Congress has enacted a series of statutes that protect employees against many kinds of discrimination in employment, the most important of which may be summarized as follows:

Name of Statute

Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990


Discrimination Prohibited

Race, color, religion, sex, national origin


Handicap (federal employment)

Disability (non-federal employment)

The historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 also created a federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) with the responsibility of investigating alleged violations of Title VII of that Act. The EEOC later assumed investigative authority over complaints filed under the other statutes listed above as well as several other federal statutes.

A person aggrieved by an employment-related decision who wishes to file a lawsuit based on an alleged violation of one of these statutes must first file a complaint with the EEOC or with an equivalent state-level agency, such as the Maryland Commission on Human Relations or the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights, referred to as Fair Employment Practices Agencies. Strictly enforced EEOC regulations, such as a presumptive 180 deadline for filing complaints of discrimination, govern all complaints alleging violations of federal such complaints and pose pitfalls even for attorneys who normally practice employment law.


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