How can I find out what kinds of rights can be waived, and in what manner?

For example:

  • Can I waive any of my Constitutional rights? What kinds require a contract, and what kinds are waived through not exercising them at the proper time?
  • Can I waive any of my statutory rights? What kinds require a contract, and what kinds are waived through not exercising them at the proper time?
  • Any other rights I'm missing?


  • I mean without having to go ask a lawyer every single time, obviously.

  • I'm not asking anyone to make me a table of all possible rights and waiving mechanisms!
    I just want some rules of thumb, and/or pointers to existing lists if they happen to exist.

  • It's good you don't want such a table because last time I counted I had several million, most of which I waive on a daily basis.
    – Dale M
    Aug 20, 2016 at 9:04
  • @DaleM: You counted several million kinds of rights? Are you sure you're grouping them correctly?
    – user541686
    Aug 20, 2016 at 9:08
  • Since you are asking about USA, some rights are specific to US citizens, and some rights are specific to US residents, so you could wave these rights by moving to another country or changing your citizenship. You will probably gain rights in another country if you do that.
    – gnasher729
    Mar 29, 2022 at 15:07
  • This doesn't really have a general answer, not even any strong "rules of thumb" except that most statutory rights that expressly state that they cannot be waived cannot be waived (but not even all of those).
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 29, 2022 at 21:42

2 Answers 2


Unwaivable rights are often rights created by statute. A right is "Unwaivable" if a contract not to exercise it is void, or voidable. That does not mean that one must exercise all one's rights. Failing to exercise a right is often not the same as waiving it.

Unwaivable rights are are common in consumer protection laws, to prevent sellers, who have much more negotiation power, from forcing consumers to contract away the rights granted by statute, thus making the statutes meaningless. They are also common in landlord/tenant laws, and credit reporting laws, for similar reasons.

Many constitutional rights are waivable, but some are not. For example, in the US, one cannot waive one's rights under the 13th Amendment. A contract of voluntary slavery, or a peonage contract, is legally void in the US.

The only way to know which rights are waivable is to do research, or have someone do it, into the particular right. Such rights are often created by law when one party typically has a strong negotiating advantage, but that is not always the case.


The rule of thumb is simple. You may waive any kind of right. If it's not waivable, it's a duty, not a right. The right to free speech does not mean that you must always criticise the government or your neighbor. The right to bear arms does not mean that you must be armed at all times. There is no right to not murder: there is a duty to not murder.

  • 2
    It seems it's not quite that simple right? Is there anything more accurate you can say?
    – user541686
    Aug 20, 2016 at 18:32
  • Do you have any evidence that there is such a thing as an unwaivable right? What would that even mean, as distinct from an obligation?
    – user6726
    Aug 20, 2016 at 18:52
  • @Mehrdad: One can certainly waive their FLSA rights, despite how you are reading that link (such as by quitting one's job rather than returning to work). What one cannot do is bind another in a contract to waive them.
    – sharur
    May 4, 2018 at 18:26
  • 1
    @sharur: You seem to view "not exercising" as being equal to "waiving"?
    – user541686
    May 4, 2018 at 18:29
  • You have the right not to be murdered. Some people are unlucky and their right gets violated, but you can't wave that right. You can't say "pay me a million dollar, and I give you the right to murder me". If we signed a contract, the contract would be void. If we signed the contract and I paid you a million dollars, the contract would still be void, the right would not be waved, and if I murder you, I'll go to jail for a long time.
    – gnasher729
    Mar 29, 2022 at 14:26

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