Most states, and many large cities, have adopted their own statutory and administrative schemes for protecting individuals from discrimination in fields actively regulated by state and local governments. For example, state constitutions and statutes typically protect individuals from discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, government contracting, credit transactions and education. As a result, a particular discriminatory act might well violate federal, state and local law -- each having its own sanctions. States may also provide protections which differ from or exceed the minimum requirements of federal law. Where such protections exist, state or municipal law also provides judicial or administrative remedies for victims of discrimination.
This re-enactment of similar or expanded protections at the state and local level serves several important purposes. First, this process involves a broad range of legislators at all levels of government taking positive steps toward the elimination of racial discrimination. This is important both for the specific legislative action that results, and for the increased local participation in the effort to eradicate race-based inequalities and racial intolerance. Thus, the effort to eliminate racial discrimination occurs at the most basic political level. Second, the process usually involves the creation of a state or local agency for the administrative enforcement of the protections involved. This frequently involves the appointment of a local commission with the power to investigate complaints and to enforce the legislation in question. Accordingly, enforcement offices are made available at locations closer to, and more accessible by, the affected individuals. Since local officials may more fully understand underlying issues and complexities in individual cases, adjudication of cases by them may yield better public understanding.
For example, the Florida Commission on Human Relations was established in 1969, with the enactment of the Florida Human Rights Act, for the purpose of enforcing Florida's anti-discrimination laws. The Commission is both a policy-making and community organization and an enforcer of anti-discrimination laws. The Commission is authorized to investigate and seek the resolution of discrimination complaints -- in housing, employment, public accommodations and private club membership -- through administrative and legal proceedings.
In Alaska, the State Commission for Human Rights, is responsible for enforcing the Alaska Human Rights law, which makes it unlawful to discriminate in employment, housing, public accommodations, finance and credit, and state political practices in all cases on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex, color, and physical or mental disability, and in some cases, on the basis of age, pregnancy, marital status, parenthood, and changes in marital status.
Moreover, many municipalities have established agencies to monitor and enforce anti-discrimination legislation. In San Francisco, the Employment, Housing and Public Accommodations Division of that city's Human Rights Commission implements the San Francisco Charter and Administrative Code, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Division staff investigate and mediate complaints involving allegations of discrimination and non-compliance, as well as prepare and promote community programs aimed at reducing or eliminating inequalities and educate the community regarding the principles of equal opportunity.
With regard to equal employment, there are 121 designated Fair Employment Practice agencies created by state and local jurisdictions which investigate charges of race discrimination under work-sharing agreements with the EEOC pursuant to Section 706 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These are identified at 29 Code of Federal Regulations Part 1601.74. There are also a number of Tribal Employment Rights organizations which investigate charges of discrimination on or near Indian reservations pursuant to work-sharing agreements with the EEOC. Examples of state laws prohibiting race discrimination in employment are: the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Cal. Gov. Code ¤ 12940; the New York Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law ¤ 296; and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, Tex. CA Labor ¤ 21.051.
In subsequent reports to the Committee, the United States intends to discuss in greater detail state and local measures taken to prevent racism and racial discrimination. As with protections at the federal level, these measures are complex and comprehensive, therefore requiring a more detailed discussion than was possible here.