Civil Rights and Affirmative Action Laws

Federal Laws

  • 1776—Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
  • 1865—13th Amendment: abolished slavery, but did not give blacks equality.
  • 1866—Civil Rights Act: "all persons shall have the same make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws..."
  • 1868—14th Amendment: "All persons born or naturalized in the US...are citizens...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person...the equal protection of the laws."
  • 1920—19th Amendment: "The rights of vote shall not be denied or abridged...on account of sex."
  • 1963—Equal Pay Act: prohibits sex-based pay differentials on jobs.
  • 1964—Civil Rights Act: Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, or religion. Title VI prohibits public access discrimination, leading to school desegregation. Title VIII is the original "federal fair housing law," later amended in 1988.
  • 1965—Executive Order 11246: The equal opportunity clause contained in Section 202 of the Order requires that Federal contractors and subcontractors not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The contractor/subcontractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
  • 1967—ADEA prohibits age discrimination for 40 - 65-year-olds, amended in 1986 to remove the 65-year-old age cap.
  • Architectural Barriers Act of 1968—requires accessibility for disabled in buildings and facilities financed with federal funds.
  • §503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. 793)—requires Government contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities. Under the Act, contractors cannot discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of physical or mental disability in regard to any position for which the employee or applicant is qualified.
  • §504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973—bars federal contractors or subcontractors from employment discrimination on the basis of disability.
  • Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended—requires Government contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified special disabled veterans, veterans of the Vietnam era, recently separated veterans, and other protected veterans.
  • Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988—disabled access required for multi-family housing intended for first occupancy after March 13, 1991.
  • Air Carriers Access Act of 1989—disabled access required in construction of terminal facilities owned or operated by an air carrier.
  • 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act—Title I prohibits disability discrimination by employers for qualified individuals in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.. Titles II and III require disability access in all places of public accommodation and business for first occupancy after January 26, 1993 or for occupancy for new alterations, and all state and local government facilities after January 26, 1992.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1991—adds provisions to title VII protections, including right to jury trial.

Adapted from Withy Law, A Short History of American Civil Rights Law.

Connecticut Laws
The state of Connecticut does not have its own set of Civil Rights laws. However, it does have a Civil Union law, which can be found in sections 46b-38aa(1) (2007) of the CONN GEN. STATS.

Adapted from the website of the Judicial Branch, Sate of Connecticut, the CT judicial Branch Law Libraries,

This website was compiled by Judy Kirmmse, former Affirmative Action Officer at Connecticut College, and Yalidy Mercedes Matos '09.