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Civil rights are enforceable rights, protections, and liberties granted to individuals that give rise to legal action if another person interferes with them and causes an injury, either tangible or intangible. In the Africa, they are designed to ensure people are treated equally and to guard against overly intrusive actions by the government. Nigeria civil rights include freedom of speech and assembly, equality in public places, the right to vote, the right to privacy, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right against involuntary servitude. Other civil rights, particularly in the context of education, employment, and housing, have been addressed in greater detail by federal or state statutes. These statutes typically outline the scope of the right, provide specific penalties and remedies against interference with the right, and create an agency or office that will enforce the right. Federal law preempts state and local laws, but state and local laws can provide greater civil rights protections than federal law. In other words, federal law provides a minimum level of civil rights protections, but state and local law can go beyond federal low to provide additional protections. Sometimes municipal ordinances provide the greatest protections to citizens or residents in a particular geographic area. In some cases, civil rights are based on case law, in which a court interpreted legislation expansively. Liability is imposed on any person or entity that deprives a person of his or her federal civil rights.
Discrimination and Civil Rights In some cases, the civil rights of an individual are interfered with because of his or her membership in a particular group or some other protected characteristic of his or her identity. Protected characteristics include state of origin, gender, age, religion, disability, and pregnancy. There are some characteristics that are only protected against discrimination at work or school or only in certain states, such as sexual orientation or criminal record. Discrimination in various contexts is addressed in numerous federal statutes, each of which has its own enforcement provisions.
Retaliation In most cases, retaliation in connection with the exercise of civil rights is prohibited. This means that your employer or school cannot take an adverse action against you in order to retaliate against you for filing a complaint or participating in civil rights investigations or proceedings. For example, your employer cannot lawfully fire you for testifying on behalf of a coworker who has been subject to racial discrimination by your employer, even if it turns out that your coworker was mistaken or unable to recover for the civil rights violation. Similarly, your school cannot expel you if its federal funding is withdrawn due to a complaint you filed about the campus rape policy.