Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of an employee or a job applicant’s disability. Specifically, the ADA protects a “qualified individual with a disability.” In considering a disparate treatment claim by an employee with a disability, courts seek to determine whether the disabled employee was treated less favorably than other employees who were not disabled.
Because many aspects of religion involve the showing of religious symbols or the speaking of religious tenets and doctrines, issues of freedom of religion and freedom of expression often overlap. Free expression and civil rights advocates say that the United States Constitution protects religious expression and activity in the “public square.” Some advocates suggest, however, that courts, including the United States Supreme Court, have not followed the requirements of the First Amendment and have shown a hostility toward religious expression in the public square since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act.
The federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) says in part that no government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of anyone confined to a federally-funded government institution, including prisons and jails. RLUIPA requires prisons to accommodate the religions practiced by inmates. The law allows governmental authorities to interfere with religious practices only if they can show a “compelling governmental interest.” Often, prison security and discipline have been found to be sufficient reasons to restrict inmates’ religious practices.
Despite this recent history, some members of Congress are attempting to pass the Flag Protection Amendment to the Constitution. Critics say that if the amendment passes, it would be the first amendment to limit, rather than protect, the freedom of speech.
Racial profiling is defined as the targeting of individuals or groups by law enforcement officials on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, or religion, except where there is trustworthy information that links the person or the group to an identified crime or scheme. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) racial profiling guidance permits the use of race and ethnicity in the identification of terrorists, but only to the extent permitted by federal law and the United States Constitution. The DOJ’s guidance prohibits law enforcement officers from using race or ethnicity in making routine or spontaneous enforcement decisions.