Did you know you can highlight text to take a note? x

In the 1960s, several court cases argued that gender discrimination violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. In many cases, the courts have struck down discriminatory laws. The 1964 Civil Rights Act forbids gender discrimination in the workplace, and some women have used this law to fight sexual harassment, which is unwanted and inappropriate physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature that creates an uncomfortable work environment or interferes with a person’s ability to do his or her job.


In 1967, Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits any age discrimination unless age is a clear and necessary qualification for the job. In 1978, Congress amended the ADEA to ban mandatory retirement rules for most employees.

The Disabled

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not protect people with disabilities. Congress has since passed several laws prohibiting discrimination against the disabled:

  • The Rehabilitation Act (1973), which banned discrimination against the disabled in any program receiving government funding. A 1978 amendment to the act required buildings constructed with federal money to accommodate the disabled with ramps, elevators, and other special equipment.
  • The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (1975), which required public schools to make provisions for students with disabilities.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), which required all public buildings to be handicapped accessible and forced employers to make all reasonable accommodations for disabled workers. Employers also cannot discriminate against the disabled when hiring.

Gays and Lesbians

Throughout much of the twentieth century, many states had laws that criminalized homosexual acts. In 2003, the Supreme Court declared such laws against sodomy illegal in Lawrence v. Texas, because they violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court decided that state governments cannot criminalize consensual adult sexual behavior.

Popular pages: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights