The constitutions and laws of the United States and Connecticut protect individuals from being treated unfairly by the government and its agents and also business and organizations open to the public. Many of these laws, collectively called civil rights laws, prohibit forms of discrimination, which is essentially when a member of a particular class of people (could be race, gender, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation) differently because that person is a member of that class. Common civil rights laws include the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act, Fair Housing Act, Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). People who are discriminated against can sue in state or federal civil court and may also pursue claims with the CHRO (Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities) and other government agencies.
The constitutions create limits to government power, from the federal government to local entities. These rights are commonly known as civil liberties. The First Amendment protects speech and expression from government restriction. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments establish due process protections. State constitutions, including Connecticut's, offer protections which may be greater than those that exist under federal law. Individuals can enforce their rights and liberties through lawsuits.