Civil rights laws are designed to protect individuals from and to resolve the effects of certain times of discrimination. These laws, enacted by the federal, State, and local governments, are commonly applied in housing, employment, public accommodation, and financial discrimination cases. And, in these contexts, civil rights laws prohibit discrimination based on personal characteristics such as sex, age, race, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, source of income, and national origin – among others.
Because of the numerous and often overlapping civil rights laws that might apply to a situation, the various types of discriminatory actions and protected characteristics, and the rules of the court system, it is best to seek guidance from a civil rights lawyer when you feel that you may have suffered from potentially unlawful discrimination. While there are private law firms which may be able to help you, government agencies and public interest not-for-profit organizations may be able to help too. When none of these sources are available to you, some courts may provide guidance to people who act on their own behalf (also known as “pro se”).
Below is a short list of organizations which may be able to guide you.
- Maryland Commission on Civil Rights
- Maryland Inmate Grievance Office
- Maryland Department of Aging
- U.S. Department of Justice
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Maryland State Bar Association
- Pro Bono Resource Center (410-837-9379)
- Lawyer referral information (800-492-1964)
- American Civil Liberties Union – Maryland Chapter
- Disability Rights Center
- Fair Housing Action Center of Maryland
- Women’s Law Center of Maryland
- Public Justice Center