A civil right is a right or privilege guaranteed by the Constitution or statutes. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, and assembly; the right to vote; freedom from involuntary servitude; and the right to equality in public places.

Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. Laws forbid discrimination based on a person's race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances sexual orientation, and forbid retaliation against a person who seeks the protection of those laws.