In 2020, the City of Austin took bold steps to secure civil rights protections for Austinites by creating the Office of Civil Rights. In February of 2021, with the hire of its first ever Civil Rights Officer, the Office of Civil Rights is charged with enforcing civil rights protections which guarantee equal social and economic opportunities, and equal protection under the law, regardless of race, religion, color, or other personal characteristics.
Examples of civil rights include the right to vote, the right to a fair trial, the right to government services, the right to a public education, the right to gainful employment, the right to housing, the right to use public facilities, freedom of religion. Civil rights are an essential component of democracy; when individuals are being denied opportunities to participate in political society, they are being denied their civil rights. In contrast to civil liberties, which are freedoms that are secured by placing restraints on government, civil rights are secured by positive government action, often in the form of legislation.
Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of the individual's membership in a particular group or class. Civil rights laws attempt to guarantee full and equal citizenship for people who have traditionally been discriminated against on the basis of some group characteristic.
The Office of Civil Rights is available to assist you if you believe your civil rights have been violated.