State civil rights agencies are responsible for enforcing various state and federal civil rights laws and legislation. They can oversee various aspects of civil rights issues, and each agency deals with the unique demands of the surrounding state. These parts of the state government are responsible for providing jobs to willing civil servants and feature an organization designed around that state’s needs.
The Jurisdiction of Civil Rights Agencies
As a general rule, civil rights agencies dedicate their efforts to advancing positive change in civil rights issues while also maintaining positive relations amongst state citizens. Should civil rights abuses arise, these agencies and their members are on the front lines attempting to rectify the issue for all involved. The exact jurisdiction of a state’s civil rights agency will depend on the mandates and legislation within that state. However, here is a list of common issues and events that may be dealt with in this particular government branch:
- Rights of access for disabled persons
- Human trafficking prevention
- Children’s rights
- Issues related to free speech
- Voter’s rights
- Sexual assault and interpersonal violence
- Rights of immigrants
- Access to higher levels of education
- General education rights
- Women’s rights
- Police misconduct
- Discrimination in the workplace
- Immigration fraud
Every State Has One
All 50 states, including the District of Columbia, have a civil rights agency or government division. Just like the internal structure, the names vary greatly across state lines. A few examples include:
- Alabama: Alabama Office of Equal Employment & Civil Rights
- Colorado: Department of Regulatory Agencies” Civil Rights Division
- Connecticut: Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities
- District of Columbia: DC Office of Human Rights
- Louisiana: Louisiana commission on Human Rights
- Mississippi: Employment Security Commission” Equal Opportunity Department
- North Dakota: Department of Labor” Division of Human Rights
- Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office” Civil Rights Enforcement Section
- Washington: Washington State Human Rights Commission
As you can see, some state civil rights agencies function under the umbrella of a greater government agency. Regardless, all the agencies function to uphold federal mandates as well as the laws of the state government.
What They Do on a Daily Basis
Civil rights agencies are meant to take proactive roles in identifying instances of civil rights violations, targeting the cause of the issue and remedying both the situation and the problem at large. Members of these agencies work closely with the public to identify important civil rights trends and to better understand the needs of the state’s citizens. In this manner, the agencies and their staff can pinpoint the need for initiatives and begin taking steps to implement appropriate actions. These organizations are generally responsible for confirming civil rights violations. This may require an investigation involving police official and eyewitness statements. Once these violations are confirmed, these agencies will follow state laws to bring perpetrators to justice and seek compensation for the victims. In many cases, this may involve legal proceedings and related actions. Additionally, these agencies are frequently charged with educating the public regarding civil rights history and the current state of affairs. When educating citizens, agency professionals should also ensure citizens understand their rights and any compensation or legal action they may be entitled to in the aftermath of a civil right violation. This may be in addition to other outreach programs. State civil rights agencies were born from the need to ensure equal rights to a growing nation. As new movements bring formerly unaddressed issues to the forefront, we may start seeing these agencies expand their programs and services to affect positive change amongst new demographics. It’s common to see these agencies focus on issues of race, sex, gender identity and socio-economic disparity, but they are not bound or limited to these issues. Visit your state civil rights agency’s website to learn more about your local organization.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.