What’s The Difference Between Civil Rights and Civil Liberties?
The attorneys at Swartz Swidler believe that it is important for you to understand the differences between civil liberties and civil rights.
It is easy to understand why many people confuse civil rights and civil liberties. While these terms may sometimes be used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler believe that it is important for you to understand the differences between civil liberties and civil rights.
What are civil rights?
In the U.S., people may not be discriminated against on the basis of their protected characteristics in education, employment, access to public facilities, and housing. When people are discriminated against because of their protected characteristics in one of these settings, the discrimination is a violation of their civil rights. Laws that outline civil rights have been established by the federal government through legislation and case law.
What are civil liberties?
Civil liberties are basic freedoms and rights that are guaranteed either by the Bill of Rights in the Constitution or by interpretations of those rights by the legislature or courts. Civil liberties in the U.S. include all of the following rights:
- Free speech
- Right to remain silent
- Right to be free from unreasonable searches
- Right to a fair trial
- Right to marry
- Right to vote
Civil rights vs. Civil liberties
Civil liberties are basic freedoms while civil rights are the basic right to be free from discrimination based on such characteristics as race, disability, color, gender, national origin, and others. Civil liberties include the basic freedoms while civil rights include how an individual is treated regarding certain rights. Civil rights contain a protective aspect of the rights based on protected characteristics. Looking at what right is affected and whose right it is can help you to understand the difference between civil rights and civil liberties.
Employees do not have the right to be promoted because it is not considered to be a civil liberty. However, female workers have the right to be free from discrimination when being considered for promotions. Employers are not able to deny promotions based on the protected characteristic of gender. Discriminating against an employee on the basis of gender is a civil rights violation.
Understanding how civil liberties and civil rights differ can help you to determine whether you might have a civil rights claim. If you believe that your rights have been violated by your employer, talk to the attorneys at Swartz Swidler to learn more about your options by filling out our contact form.