ACLU Calls Civil Rights Act of 2008 Vital to Restoring Equal Protection Under the Law

January 25, 2008 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union today cheered the introduction of S. 2554, the “Civil Rights Act of 2008” by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA). The companion bill, H.R. 5129, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) on January 23, 2008.

“This is a vital piece of legislation that restores core civil rights principles, said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Policy Counsel for Civil Rights. Our great civil rights statutes are designed to ensure that victims of discrimination can have their day in court and effective remedies when discrimination is proved. Moreover, Congress has enacted bipartisan legislation to ensure that federal tax dollars are not used to subsidize discrimination. The courts have whittled away at these principles. This legislation gives Americans back those critical protections.”

Among its many provisions, the Civil Rights Act of 2008 would:

Ensure that federal funds are not used to subsidize discrimination and hold recipients of federal funds accountable for discrimination that occurs on their watch. The legislation would restore the ability of victims of discrimination to challenge practices that have an unjustified discriminatory effect based on race, national origin, sex, age or disability. In addition, it would give students the same effective protection from unlawful harassment in our schools as adults have on the job.

Hold employers accountable for age discrimination by requiring state employers to give workers full relief for age discrimination, including back pay, and clarifying the standard for challenging employment practices that have a discriminatory effect based on age.

Improve accountability for other violations of civil rights and workers’ rights, such as prohibiting employers from requiring workers to give up the right to enforce employment laws in court in order to get a job or keep a job.

Said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office: “The American Civil Liberties Union thanks Senator Kennedy and Representative Lewis for introducing this important legislation, and we are pleased to offer our full support for its goals. The Civil Rights Act of 2008 will restore basic civil rights protections that have been weakened over the years by the courts and offer Americans a remedy if they feel their rights have been violated. We urge Congress to support and pass the Civil Rights Act.”

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