Variance in Civil Protections by US State

State Similarity Index - Political Category - Civil Protections

The State Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar states are to each other relative to other states. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. 20% of the index is based on politics. 10% of a state’s political score (2% of the overall State Similarity Index score) takes into consideration the state’s laws related to civil protections, including civil rights, immigration laws, minimum wage, and unionization.

(Please note that laws can change quickly, so it is best to consult legal professionals or government authorities for the most current and accurate information)

Civil Rights

While federal laws offer a baseline of protection, individual states possess the power to create unique policies that further protect their people from discrimination. Many states have robust laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, however most states in the Southern region do not. The Equal Rights Amendment is another law that was not ratified by most Southern states.

In addition, most states have banned racial profiling as well. However, the majority of the 20 states that do not explicitly ban it are actually in the Northern portion of the country, including New York, Vermont, and Oregon. Just 8 states have laws banning racial preference in college admissions, California, Texas, Washington, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Arizona, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, although the recent Supreme Court ruling now bans it for all states.

Wikipedia – LGBT discrimination
Vox – Racial Profiling
Wikipedia – Housing discrimination
James G Martin Center – Affirmative Action
Wikipedia – Equal Rights Amendment

States were classified by whether they have approved the following laws:
LGBT Employment Discrimination Ban
LGBT Housing Discrimination Ban
Racial Profiling Ban
Racial Preferences in College Admissions Ban
Equal Rights Amendment

Immigration Laws

A few state governments have a policy of not cooperating with the federal immigration authorities. These are known as “sanctuary states”. The main objective behind sanctuary policies is to foster trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement. The 11 states that have this policy typically vote for Democrats and have many Democrats in their state legislatures. 12 states allow undocumented immigrants to have driver’s licenses. Interestingly enough, Utah is the only heavily Republican state to allow it.

Federation for American Immigration Reform
Value Penguin

States were classified by whether they have the following policies:
Restrictions on most forms of cooperation with federal immigration authorities
Allow undocumented immigrants to have driver’s licenses

Minimum Wage

Minimum wage laws establish the lowest hourly wage rate that employers must pay their employees. The purpose of minimum wage laws is to provide a basic standard of living and protect workers from exploitation and extremely low wages. Most states in the Southern region still have not set their minimum wage higher than the federal standard of $7.25 per hour. States with have higher percentage of Democrats tend to have higher minimum wages. Washington state has the highest in the country.

Source: Wikipedia

States were classified by their current minimum wage:
$7-8, $8-9, $9-10, $10-11, $11-12, $12-13

Unionization Laws

In the United States, labor laws regarding unionization and public teacher collective bargaining vary significantly from state to state. Some states offer the freedom of choice, allowing workers to decide whether or not to join a labor union, while others mandate unionization in specific industries. Similarly, public school teachers’ collective bargaining rights differ, with some states prohibiting it outright, others offering it as an option, and some adopting nuanced restrictions.

All states in the Southern region have right-to-work laws. They prohibit agreements between employers and labor unions that would require employees to become union members or pay union dues as a condition of employment. Similarly, outside of the Southern region, most states actually mandate that school districts negotiate with teacher’s unions in good faith.

Nation Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation

States were classified by following laws:
Unionization: Optional or Mandated
Public Teacher Collective Bargaining: Prohibited, Optional, Prohibited

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