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Protection over things you don't control

Many civil rights protections are simply in place to make sure that people are all given the same rights, regardless of factors outside of their control.

For example, you may try to rent out an apartment and be turned down because you have a cat. The owner does not want pets in his or her property. While you may feel wronged, this is not a violation of your rights. The landlord can make any determination that he or she wants regarding pets and it is your choice whether you own a cat or not.

However, a woman could try to rent the apartment out at the same time as a man. She has all of the same qualifications: She has no pets, she makes the same amount of money and has good references. If the landlord turns her down because she is a woman and gives the apartment to the man, her civil rights have been violated. That is an example of gender discrimination, which is illegal.

The same thing could be true for other protected classes. For instance, you could be turned down based on your race or because of your religion. These are also protected classes and discrimination on these grounds is illegal.

Naturally, this type of discrimination can be difficult to prove, no matter what setting it happens in. Maybe you haven't been discriminated against by a landlord, but in the workplace or by the police. Anyone who does it may make excuses or claim there was a valid reason, whether or not that's actually the case. You must know all of the legal options that you have.

Source: FindLaw, "Have Your Civil Rights Been Violated?," accessed April 27, 2017

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