How To File A Complaint With The Civil Rights Division

The following examples illustrate the kinds of discrimination the Civil Rights Division can address. If you think that you or someone you know has been the victim of discrimination or a hate crime, please follow these links for information on filing a complaint.

Criminal Violations

  • A young man of Egyptian descent is assaulted as he leaves a concert at a nightclub. The assailant, a member of a skinhead group, yells racial epithets as he beats the victim unconscious in the club's parking lot with fists and a pipe.
  • At Ku Klux Klan meetings, a Klansman tells other members that Arabs and Muslims should go "back to where they came from." They burn a cross in the front yard of a young Syrian couple in order to frighten them and force them to leave the neighborhood. Before burning the cross, the defendant displays a gun and gives one of his friends another gun in case the victims try to stop them.
  • An American company recruits workers in a small village in India, promising them good work at high pay. The company smuggles the workers to the United States illegally. When they finally arrive in the U.S., the workers are threatened and told that if they attempt to leave their factory they will be killed.

Disability Rights

  • An HMO that enrolls Medicaid patients tells an Indian woman with cerebral palsy to come back another day for an appointment while it provides immediate assistance to others.
  • A child has difficulty speaking English, but her school does not provide her with the necessary assistance to help her learn English and other subjects.
  • A school district places all Arab students in one class because the non-Arab students do not feel comfortable being in the same classroom with those students.
  • A transit worker's supervisor makes frequent racial epithets against the worker because his family is from Iran. Last week, the boss put up a fake sign on the bulletin board telling everyone not to trust the worker because he is a terrorist.
  • A woman who emigrated from Pakistan applies for a job as an accountant. The employer turns her down because she speaks with an accent even though she is able to perform the job requirements.
  • A Sikh man is terminated from his job because he wears a turban and beard in compliance with his religious beliefs and has refused to comply with his employer's request to come to work clean shaven and without a turban.
  • A Muslim employee requests time off at lunch on Fridays for congregational prayers. The employer immediately says "no" without considering whether it could reasonably accommodate the employee's request.

Federally Funded or Assisted Programs

  • A local social services agency does not provide information or job training in Hindi even though one quarter of local residents speak only Hindi.

Housing Discrimination

  • A landlord refuses to renew the lease of a Sikh tenant while renewing leases of other tenants.
  • A non-Arab tenant harasses a Lebanese tenant who complains to the landlord about the harassment, and the landlord refuses to do anything to stop the harassment.
  • A real estate the agent discourages a family of Saudi Arabian descent from looking in certain neighborhoods by saying that they may not feel comfortable living there.
  • A landlord refuses to provide maintenance and other services to a Muslim tenant, but provides such services to other tenants.
  • A real estate agent refuses to show an Indian married couple houses until they are financially pre-qualified for a loan even though the agent does not require this of anyone else.
  • A food processing company requires applicants who appear or sound foreign to show work authorization documents before allowing them to complete an employment application while native-born Caucasian applicants are not required to show any documents before completing employment applications.
  • An employer scrutinizes and rejects the documents presented for INS I-9 purposes by South Asian or Arab Americans to a far greater extent than those of other new hires.
  • An employer requires all Pakistanis, Saudi Arabians, and Afghanis to complete a new INS form I-9 in response to the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, while not requiring other employees to do so.
  • An employer fires employees who are not U.S. citizens or who appear "foreign" in response to the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.
  • An employer fires an employee whose manner of dress or cultural practices suggest that he or she is "foreign."
  • An employer posts a sign that states, "We hire Americans only."

Institutionalized Persons

  • A jail will not translate disciplinary hearings for detainees who do not speak English.
  • A state's psychiatric hospital has no means of providing treatment for people who do not speak English.
  • Police officers constantly pull over cars driven by Arab Americans, Muslims, and Sikhs for certain traffic violations, but rarely pull over white drivers for the same violations.
  • A police officer questioning a man of Pakistani origin on the street gets angry when the man is unable to answer his questions because he does not speak English. The officer arrests the man for disorderly conduct.

Lending Discrimination

  • An Afghan business owner is denied a loan for his business.
  • A woman of Egyptian descent is required to pay higher interest rates and fees than other loan applicants.
  • Credit card applicants with Arab-sounding names are required to provide more references than other credit card applicants and must meet more stringent approval standards.
  • A restaurant refuses to serve a group of Muslim guests, saying that it has closed early.
  • A nightclub refuses to let a Sikh man enter unless he removes his turban.
  • A hotel cancels the ballroom reservation for a wedding reception made by an Iraqi family, even though the ballroom is still available.
  • A waitress asks diners of Sri Lankan descent to pay for their meal in advance.
  • When a Muslim married couple arrives to check in to a hotel, the clerk tells them that the type of room they reserved is not available and assigns them to a dirty room in an undesirable part of the hotel.
  • Despite requests from voters in a large Arabic-speaking community, election officials refuse to allow Arabic speakers to bring translators into the voting booth.
  • A polling official requires a dark-skinned voter, who speaks with a Middle Eastern accent and has an Arab-sounding last name, to provide proof of U.S. citizenship, but does not require proof of citizenship from white voters.
Updated August 6, 2015

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