Civil Rights is one of the broadest and most complicated areas of the law, yet it is fundamental to the freedoms we experience as Americans.
Claims of infringement on civil rights can be filed for a long list of reasons and can include personal injury as well as harassment and simple denial of rights. Claims can be brought against various branches of government such as the police, against employers, against landlords, retail stores, restaurants, virtually anyone who curtails or infringes on the civil rights of another.
Reasons for discrimination are equally broad. They can include race, sexual orientation, sexual harassment, religion, age discrimination, people with disabilities or illnesses, and national origin.
Cases of civil rights can also include those of government sovereignty where a government agency denies compensation in an injury or if a prison denies medical care. The legal navigation of civil rights cases can be difficult depending on the laws of a state, town city or other jurisdiction and several civil rights cases have ended up before the Supreme Court. Civil rights legislation is a constant ongoing process involving several constitutional amendments as well as legal decisions in state legislatures, city councils and the United States Congress.
Civil Rights law is one of the prime examples of democracy in action. Court decisions have led to new laws that have circumvented or overridden those decisions.
Violations of civil rights can cover a wide area from someone being denied employment because of a health condition, for example AIDS or being HIV positive to domestic or spousal abuse. People who have been threatened or abused or had their property damaged are victims of civil rights abuse.
Examples of civil rights abuse can include hate crimes if the crimes are based on sexual orientation, religion, sexual preference, a person’s gender as well as exploitation and abuse and mistreatment from both the public and officials in government. In recent years there have been many reports of “bullying” in the media as well as on social networking groups on the Internet. Bullying at its essence is a form of civil rights abuse.
Examples of employment discrimination can include firing an employee because of their religion, gender, race, age, or sexual preference or a medical condition as well as not promoting an employee for any of the above reasons. At the same time, showing favoritism to an employee for any of these things is also a civil rights violation. Also included in civil rights regarding employment or conditions in the workplace would be sexual harassment as well as sexual favoritism. For example if a man is promoted to a higher position simply because he is a man when a woman candidate for the same position does the job as well or better, that could be considered discrimination a violation of civil rights law. Another example would be if a man was working a company owned by women and only women were promoted, the man would then have a claim of civil rights violations.
Another example of civil rights violations is public accommodations. If you are denied service in a restaurant, a lounge, a bowling alley, an amusement park, a room in a hotel or motel or a retail store or any other public place because of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation, that is discrimination. Again, the denial of service has to be for the above reasons. For instance if an amusement park or a restaurant has a dress code and you do not meet the requirements of that dress code, that would not be civil rights discrimination. However, if an amusement park’s dress code doesn’t allow t-shirts, yet for example waiting in line for entrance you see a white person wearing a t-shirt gain admittance and if you’re a non-white person, that amusement park denies you entrance citing your t-shirt as the reason, that would be discrimination.
Another example of a civil rights violation would be profiling. Usually this is referred to by the media as racial profiling, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be racial. For instance a certain group, perhaps blacks or Mexicans is stopped more often by police in a state than another group. That is racial profiling. Another example of profiling that wasn’t racial was done by the New Jersey State Police in the late 1960’s and well into the 1970’s. They would routinely pull over vehicles driven by long haired men. This went on for several years until a lawsuit was filed.
In some cases for instant civil rights cases involving employment, a complaint should be filed first with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The person filing the complaint will receive a response letting them know whether or not they are eligible to sue.
In all civil rights litigation it is crucial to hire an attorney. Civil Rights legislation is constantly evolving and only an attorney will know how to maneuver within the legal system.
If you think your civil rights have been violated, contact Austin Freundlich and Gregory Littman for a free case evaluation and consultation. Click here to leave a message online or call