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'Enforcing our nation's civil rights laws:' U.S. Attorney seeks to help those facing harassment due to COVID-19 pandemic

U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler asks citizens to report incidents of discrimination as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supreme Court rules that civil rights laws protect LGBTQ employees from discrimination
Justice Department: Town discriminated against Muslims
Posted at 10:42 AM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 10:45:02-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The United States Department of Justice announced Monday that if anyone has witnessed or experienced harassment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to report the allegation to the Civil Rights Coordinator Jeffrey D. Preston.

Discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, and other protected classes is unlawful under several federal laws and may result in criminal or civil liability. Discrimination can arise in many different contexts in addition to housing, including education, employment, health and safety, and places of public accommodation.

"Enforcing our nation's civil rights laws is one of the top priorities in my office," U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler said.

Justice Department: Town discriminated against Muslims

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 11: Two women wearing Islamic niqab veils stand outside the French Embassy during a demonstration on April 11, 2011 in London, England. France has become the first country in Europe to ban the wearing of the veil and in Paris two women have been detained by police under the new law. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The coronavirus impact has left several vulnerable communities — including people with disabilities, limited English proficiency, service members, and others — subjected to sexual exploitation, according to Minkler. Such examples being housing providers, such as landlords and managers, who exploit tenants for sex in exchange for rent or other housing needs. Such acts are in violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA).

"We must remain vigilant and work together in this area, especially during this public health crisis," Minkler said. "COVID-19 has affected all races, religions, ethnicities, and those with disabilities. Please help us address any suspected discrimination, as we enforce the laws that prohibit such behavior."

According to a new Indiana University survey, people of color, people living in poverty, and those with children are most at risk of having their utilities disconnected due to the impact of COVID-19. The survey found that 22% of respondents had to reduce or forgo basic household needs, like medicine or food, to pay an energy bill. About 40% indicated that the pandemic had harmed their ability to seek medical care.

If you believe you are a victim of discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, or other protected classes, you can find information about how to file a complaint at

More resources:

  • For disability-related issues are available at
  • Language access information is available at
  • Anyone who has experienced sexual harassment in housing, or knows someone who has, can also email