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360. U.S. District Courts -- Civil rights-Related Complaints and Disposition

[Covers civil rights complaints related to employment, housing, welfare, or voting rights,but excludes prisoner petitions]

Complaints Disposition
Jurisdiction Percent of cases Judgment
Year disposed
Cases involving
U.S. Government Dismissed
Private Cases Total Trial
Total Plaintiff Defendant cases disposed Total Settled
Total Total Total
1990 18,793 747 1,736 16,310 17,811 65.6 30.7 34.4 7.8
1991 19,892 816 1,532 16,992 17,975 67.2 31.5 32.9 7.6
1992 24,233 639 1,773 21,821 25,094 65.9 31.5 34.1 7.3
1993 27,655 747 1,970 24,938 23,416 67.5 31.5 32.4 6.6
1994 32,622 718 2,268 29,636 26,596 69.4 34.8 30.6 6.7
1995 36,600 668 2,358 33,574 30,175 69.4 33.4 30.6 6.0
1996 42,007 486 2,433 39,088 34,986 69.7 33.7 30.3 5.7
1997 43,278 561 2,356 40,361 38,131 70.5 34.2 29.5 5.2
1998 42,354 672 2,366 38,835 40,185 70.9 35.2 29.2 4.9

Source: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Civil Rights Complaints in Civil Rights Complaints in U.S. District Courts, 1990-98,series NCJ 173427, January 2000.


The primary source of data presented in this report is theAdministrative Office of the U.S. Courts Civil Master File. Data tabulations were prepared from the BJS staff analysis ofsource agency data sets. The Federal civil rights categoriesused in this report are based on the codes established by theAdministrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC). Caselevel information is provided by individual U.S. districtcourts, which submit data to the AOUSC. As a result, nodetailed information is available about civil rights-relatedcases coded as "other." For civil rights cases that involvedmore than one action filed, the AOUSC instructs the plaintiff'sattorney, if the cause fits more than one nature of suit, toselect the most definitive. It is the first nature of the suitcode that was used in the analysis for this report.

For civil rights-related complaints where more than one basis ofjurisdiction applies, the case was coded according to thehighest priority jurisdiction. Cases in which the U.S.Government is the plaintiff have the highest priority, followedby U.S. Government as defendant, then Federal questions.

Calculations pertaining to trial winners and their award amountswere based on cases for which the winner and award amount wasknown and does not include instances where both parties won thecase in part. Differences between known amounts and thoseunknown are not quantifiable. Winners were unknown in less than1% of trial cases yearly from 1990 to 1998. In 4% or fewer ofcases disposed of by trial per year, both the plaintiff anddefendant won the case.

Although the courts record the title and section of the U.S.code for each case, this data field is not required by the AOUSCStatistics Division. It is not recommended for statisticalanalysis. For a more detailed explanation of the difficultiesassociated with the title and section fields of the AOUSC civilfile, see the Report to the Subcommittee on Judicial Statisticson "Increase in Civil Rights Filings," prepared by theAnalytical Services Office of the Administrative Office of theU.S. Courts.*Selected Federal civil rights statutes


The Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1871 (42 USC Sec. 1983; 42 USCSec. 1981). Following the U.S. Civil War (1860-65), these civilrights acts were established to enforce the 13th, 14th, and 15thamendments to the U.S. Constitution. The 1866 act prohibitsracial discrimination in the making and enforcement of contractsamong public and private employers. The 1871 act deals withcivil rights violations by government entities. In recentyears, these civil rights acts increasingly have been used inemployment discrimination cases.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (29 USC Sec. 201) requires employersto pay men and women equal pay for equal working conditions.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 USC Sec. 2000)prohibits employers with 15 employees or more fromdiscriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, ornational origin.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (29 USC Sec.621-634) prohibits discrimination on the basis of age againstpersons 40 years of age or older. This act applies to employerswith 20 employees or more. This Act was amended by the OlderWorkers Benefit Protection Act in 1990 (29 USC Sec. 626f) toensure that older workers have complete and accurate informationabout their benefits and are not pressured into waiving theirrights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 USC Sec. 793-794) prohibitsgovernment contractors with contracts of $2,500 or more fromdiscriminating against individuals with physical or mentalhandicaps.

In addition, government contracts pursuant to Executive Order11246 must contain an equal opportunity clause and must developand maintain an affirmative action plan. Vietnam veterans maybenefit from affirmative action plans in government contractsunder the Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974,and the employment of aliens is dealt with in the ImmigrationReform and Control Act.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (42 USC Sec. 2000)amended Title VII to prohibit discrimination against employeesor job applicants on the basis of pregnancy and requiredemployers to treat pregnant employees in the same way asemployees with other medical disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (29 USC Sec.12101-12213) prohibits discrimination against individuals withdisabilities in employment, public services, and publicaccommodations.

The Civil Rights Act of 1991 (42 USC Sec. 2000e) amended severalof the Federal employment discrimination laws including TitleVII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Rights Act of1866, the (ADEA), the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americanswith Disabilities Act (ADA).

The act, for example, amended Title VII and the ADA to providethe right to a jury trial and punitive damages (not to exceed$300,000); it amended the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to prohibitracial harassment in the workplace and in post-hire employmentconduct rather than just in hiring and promotions.

Housing and accommodations

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 USC Sec. 1982) ensures thatall citizens of the United States shall have the same right, inevery State and Territory, as is enjoyed by white citizens toinherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real andpersonal property.

The Fair Housing Act (42 USC Sec. 3601-3619) prohibitsdiscrimination in various types of housing transactions such assales, renting, and financing, on the basis of race, religion,sex, or national origin.

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 expanded the Fair HousingAct to prohibit discriminatory housing practices based on handicapand familial status and provided for enhanced government enforcementof the act, including the recovery of monetary penalties in caseswhere discrimination is found.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (15 USC Sec. 1691) prohibitscreditors from discriminating against credit applicants on thebasis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, maritalstatus, age, because all or part of the applicant's incomederives from any public assistance program, or because theapplicant has in good faith exercised any right under theConsumer Credit Protection Act.

Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 USC Sec. 2000)prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, andnational origin in places of public accommodation, such ashotels, restaurants, and certain places of entertainment.


The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 USC Sec. 1973 to 1973bb-1)protects racial and language minorities from discrimination inthe electoral process and from being denied the fair opportunityto elect candidates of their choice.The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of1984 (42 USC Sec. 1973ee to 1973ee-6) ensures access forhandicapped and elderly individuals to polling places forFederal elections.

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986(42 USC Sec. 1973ff to 1973ff-6) enables members of the ArmedForces and other U.S. citizens who are abroad to register andvote absentee in presidential and congressional elections.

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (42 USC Sec. 1973ggto 1973gg-10), commonly referred to as the Motor Voter law,improves access to voter registration by requiring States toprovide simultaneous voter registration and driver's licenseapplications, provide a mail-in application, and makeregistration available at various government agencies.


These tables are based on figures supplied by the United States Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce and are subject to revision by the Census Bureau.

Copyright 2019 Photius Coutsoukis and Information Technology Associates, all rights reserved.