Periodic report of the united states of america to the united nations committee on the elimination of racial discrimination


A. Brief description of legal framework and general policies



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A. Brief description of legal framework and general policies.

17. Racial discrimination by the government is prohibited at all levels. Prohibitions cover all public authorities and institutions as well as private organizations, institutions, and employers under many circumstances. For a description of the general legal framework and policies addressing racial discrimination, see paragraphs 142 – 175 of the Common Core Document.



18. Recent laws relating to discrimination, including discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, or minority groups, include:

  • The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, signed by President Obama in 2009, provides that the statute of limitations for bringing a wage discrimination claim, including claims alleging wage discrimination based on race or national origin, runs from the time an individual is “affected by application of a discriminatory compensation decision . . . including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid.” The law overrides a Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 500 U.S. 618 (2007).

  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 governs the use of genetic information in health insurance and employment decisions. Protected genetic information includes genetic services (tests, counseling, education), genetic tests of family members, and family medical history. As it relates to racial and ethnic discrimination, this law prohibits an insurer or employer from refusing to insure or employ someone with a genetic marker for disease associated with certain racial or ethnic groups, such as sickle cell trait.

  • The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (Shepard-Byrd Act) creates a new federal prohibition on hate crimes, 18 U.S.C. 249; simplifies the jurisdictional predicate for prosecuting violent acts undertaken because of, inter alia, the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person; and, for the first time, allows federal prosecution of violence undertaken because of the actual or perceived gender, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity of any person.

  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided funding for programs that will help reduce discrimination and improve the lives of members of minority populations through education, training, and programs to end homelessness.

  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 provides many Americans access to health insurance. Section 1557 extends the application of federal civil rights laws to any health program or activity receiving federal financial assistance, any program or activity administered by an executive agency, or any entity established under Title 1 of the ACA.

  • The Tribal Law and Order Act of 20103 gives tribes greater authority to prosecute and punish criminals; expands recruitment, retention, and training for Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and tribal officers; includes new guidelines and training for domestic violence and sex crimes; strengthens tribal courts and police departments; and enhances programs to combat drug and alcohol abuse and help at-risk youth.

  • The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 provides funding and statutory authorities for settlement agreements reached in the In re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation (brought by Black/African American farmers who filed late claims in an earlier case concerning discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the award and servicing of farm loans), and also for several settlement agreements reached with regard to indigenous issues – the Cobell lawsuit (alleging U.S. government mismanagement of individual Indian money accounts), and four major Native American water rights cases.

  • The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduces sentencing disparities between powder cocaine and crack cocaine offenses, capping a long effort to address the fact that those convicted of crack cocaine offenses are more likely to be members of racial minorities.

  • The financial reform legislation of 2010 includes a new consumer protection bureau that will help address the unjustified disproportionate effect of the foreclosure crisis on communities of color.

  • The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, signed by President Obama in March of this year, reauthorizes critical grant programs created by the original Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and subsequent legislation, establishes new programs, and strengthens federal laws.  Section 3 prohibits discrimination on the basis of, inter alia, actual or perceived race or national origin in any VAWA-funded program or activity.


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