Civil Rights Newsletters

Disparate Treatment in the Employment of the Disabled

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of an employee or a job applicant's disability. Specifically, the ADA protects a "qualified individual with a disability." In considering a disparate treatment claim by an employee with a disability, courts seek to determine whether the disabled employee was treated less favorably than other employees who were not disabled.

Internet surveillance provision of USA PATRIOT Act

A federal court has ruled that the surveillance provision of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act) was unconstitutionally broad. In striking down § 505, the federal judge said that while national security was of "paramount value," personal security was equal in importance. The judge held that § 505 was violative of the First Amendment because § 505's permanent ban on disclosure of the request was an impermissible "prior restraint" on free speech. Additionally, the surveillance provision violated the Constitution because it gave "unchecked powers" to obtain private information. Furthermore, it violated the Constitution's prohibitions against unreasonable searches.

The Freedom of Religion in Prisons

The federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) says in part that no government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of anyone confined to a federally-funded government institution, including prisons and jails. RLUIPA requires prisons to accommodate the religions practiced by inmates. The law allows governmental authorities to interfere with religious practices only if they can show a "compelling governmental interest." Often, prison security and discipline have been found to be sufficient reasons to restrict inmates' religious practices.

The Privacy of Cellular Telephone Numbers

Six of the seven largest wireless telephone carriers say that they will move forward with a plan to compile a directory of wireless telephone numbers. The Wireless 411 Privacy Act has been introduced in Congress to prohibit wireless telephone carriers from including in a published directory the cellular phone numbers of those subscribers who do not give their consent.

What is the "Community Relations Service?"

The Community Relations Service (CRS) is a federal agency that is a part of the United States Department of Justice. CRS was created by Title V of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to assist local communities in the prevention and resolution of serious racial and ethnic conflicts. For example, CRS might provide impartial federal mediators to help resolve a "use of excessive force" dispute between a city's police department and a citizen's group. CRS can help school officials, a community, and students to establish dialogues.