Discrimination And The Law

By: Anastasia Phocas

Without going into the merits of ability or legal rights and rendering unequal treatment to a person is known as discrimination. In the US, state and federal laws forbid discrimination in rates of payment, employment, promotion rights, opportunities in education, civil rights and facility usage on the basis of nationality, race, colour, creed, sex, age and sexual orientation. Protesting against discrimination or seeking enforcement of rights of equal treatment is provided in various state and federal laws.

Not all discrimination is illegal. There is legal discrimination too. When a person is given different treatment based on the membership of their class it is an illegal discrimination because being part of a race, national origin or age, colour, family status, or gender cannot be controlled or changed by an individual.

Whereas an individual can control his or her behaviour in respect of a credit record, being a law-abiding tenant, accumulating wealth or having a secure job. A discrimination based on the above is perfectly legal.

The law on discrimination is very complex to understand because there is always exceptions and variations of being a group, whereas the rules are applicable in general context. If a person falls sick due to excessive smoking, which leads to a disability, then that person cannot fight against disability discrimination. Similarly certain characteristic of a group can be changed - for example a change in family status or a change of religion.

It is very difficult to prove illegal discrimination. Treatment shown to one person should be proved as different from the general treatment given for the same cause.

Many landlords come out with excuses for the special or not so special treatment to get away from illegal discrimination. If the new owner is of different color from the existing tenant and the landlord is showing payment history as cause for eviction, then it is very difficult to prove illegal discrimination even though the cause shown is different from the hidden cause for the eviction.

Similarly according to California's fair housing laws, a tenant cannot be discriminated simply because he or she is availing child support or public assistance.

A disabled person cannot be discriminated against by not providing ramps, handrails, or illuminated doorbells etc. This is a case of clear discrimination based on the disability and the law of the land is very much in favour of the disabled community. These provisions should be made available either by the landlord or if not already available, the tenant should be permitted to include these provisions at their own cost.

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