The Civil Rights Act
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 established many of the employment, housing, and federal anti-discrimination laws that now protect U.S. citizens. This set of protections cover several different kinds of discrimination, the most familiar of which are discrimination by race, sex, religion, and national origin. The Civil Rights Act is also responsible for the equal treatment of Americans regardless of age, disability, or pregnancy, and is a key reason behind the creation of affirmative action plans.
Some of the most important protections made possible by the Civil Rights Act are made possible by Title VII or employment discrimination laws. These laws ensure that people are treated fairly regardless of race, sex, gender, and other factors, and that these factors do not affect a person's ability to get a job, obtain a promotion, or work in a harassment-free environment. Further, federal employment discrimination laws mandate that citizens are entitled to equal pay under the EDA and equal opportunity under the age discrimination (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Acts (ADA).
Housing rights are also protected under the Fair Housing Act, which forbids housing discrimination on the basis of race, creed, age, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, familial status (having children) or physical or mental handicap. Family status discrimination is an especially common and problematic form of discrimination when housing is involved, but FHA laws demand equal treatment and consideration for pregnant women, families with children, and people in the process of getting custody for children.