If so, you may have a legal claim and may be able to recover monetary damages.
The lawyers at Ernst Charara & Lovell, PLC have experience handling every area of civil rights litigation. We have a passion for justice that we bring to every case. You can trust us to assist you in protecting and enforcing your legal rights every step of the way. From individual lawsuits to class actions, in federal and state courts, we zealously advocate for our clients and their causes.
Civil rights is a highly specialized area of law which and these types of cases can be complicated. Civil Rights laws are constantly evolving. It is important to understand that not everyone who has been treated unfairly has a case, but we are experts at understanding these laws and explaining to you your rights. We regularly handle a large area of civil rights cases, including unlawful arrest or wrongful conviction, jail and prison deaths, malicious prosecution, unlawful searches and seizures, hate crimes, retaliation, sexual harassment, excessive force, racial, age or gender discrimination, unconstitutional prison conditions, whistleblower rights and protection, freedom of speech and association violations, law enforcement misconduct and brutality, and more. Although civil rights cases can be difficult, we feel strongly about the importance of protecting civil rights.
Click the bullet points below to lean more about your rights and what we can do to help you.
We are given basic rights under the U.S. Constitution and civil rights laws and statutes. Individual rights and freedoms are considered sacred and protecting these is an essential part of the democratic values of the United States. Civil rights is a broad term, but it has a very specific meaning in U.S. Law. The most common types of civil rights claims involve abuse by government or state actors, such as police brutality or misconduct, or agencies, wrongful termination, and employment discrimination.
Civil rights are a significant and extensive set of rights, which are designed to protect individuals broadly from unfair treatment. Further, they are the rights of individuals to receive equal treatment, and to be free from unfair treatment and discrimination. This applies to a number of settings such as in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and more.
Discrimination is not only a societal problem, but in many cases, it is also a violation of the law. In some cases, a person’s civil rights are interfered with as a result of his or her membership in a particular group or some other protected characteristic of his or her identity. Examples of these protected characteristics include race, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, and pregnancy.
Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of a person are interfered with or outright denied because of their membership in one of these groups. However, it is important to recognize that there are some characteristics that are only protected against discrimination at work or school or only in certain states. Many jurisdictions have enacted legislation to prevent discrimination based on a person’s race, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, and in some instances, on their sexual orientation or even their hair.
In most cases, retaliation in connection with a person’s exercise of their civil rights is prohibited by law.
This means, for example, that your employer or your public school cannot take an adverse action against you in order to retaliate against you doing certain things, such as for filing a complaint, making a report, or participating in civil rights investigations or other proceedings.
People often confuse civil rights with civil liberties. Civil rights deal with our legal protections. A civil liberty, on the other hand, refers to many of our personal freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments to our Constitution. Some of these Amendments include:
The First Amendment protects many of our civil liberties and several basic freedoms including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right against unreasonable searches and seizures. It protects a our right not to have our home, car, or body searched without a warrant or probable cause. We also have the right not to be arrested without probable cause. It also protects an individual from the use of excessive force by police officers and from malicious prosecution by police officers or other government officials.
imposes restrictions on the government’s prosecution of those who are accused of crimes. Additionally, it prohibits self-incrimination and double jeopardy. It also mandates due process of law by the federal government.
The Fourteenth Amendment protects us from being deprived of our life, liberty, or property without due process, similar to the Fifth Amendment. However, the Fourteenth Amendment applies to the states. In addition, the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right to bodily integrity and the right to be free from discrimination by state actors and government officials.
Civil rights laws didn’t develop all at once in the United States. Other civil rights, including and in particular, those in the context of housing, employment, and education, have been addressed through federal legislation or statutes over the past few decades. They often provide specific remedies and, in some cases, penalties, when one’s rights have been interfered. Civil rights laws exist to protect people from discrimination or retaliation. Moreover, these laws have created legal remedies for those who have suffered from unfair treatment at the hands of the government or even private parties in some cases.
Many of these laws guaranteeing and regulating civil rights began at the federal level, through federal legislation and federal statutes such as the following:
Prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs which receive federal assistance like health care services, housing, welfare, rehabilitation and educational programs.
Monumental legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in the areas of employment, education, voting, and public accommodations. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and legislation thereafter also asserted a strong policy against discrimination in public schools and colleges, which aided in desegregation in this country. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in federally funded programs or any activity receiving federal assistance. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination, and Congress has passed numerous other laws dealing with employment discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII against private employers. Title IX of the Civil Rights Act protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance.
While the Constitutional Amendments listed above provide for many of our civil rights, they do not by themselves allow a person to sue for money damages. To fix this problem, our Congress passed a statute – 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which allows individuals to sue in a federal district court when they have had their rights interfered with by the government. Liability is imposed on any person or entity that deprives a person of his or her federal civil rights under “color of state law.” This statute permits a person to sue state and municipal government officials who violate your federal civil rights, although this right may be partially or fully limited by the doctrine of immunity.
Issues involving civil rights can be very complicated and can often be difficult to resolve without proper experience or knowledge of these laws. If you believe you have suffered a violation of your civil rights, the best place to start is to speak with an experienced civil rights lawyer.
A lawyer can help you decide whether your case should be filed in state court or federal court and help you to identify the proper parties to sue. It is important to remember that for some types of civil rights cases, you must file a claim with the appropriate government agency before pursuing any private lawsuit. Discussing your case with an experienced civil rights attorney will help you to determine which laws apply to your situation, whether you must file a claim with a government agency first, and where you might file your lawsuit to ensure the best outcome for your case.
You may feel that your rights have been violated, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that your civil rights were violated. Only certain rights are protected under civil rights and anti-discrimination laws. A situation may be unfair but may be legal and cannot form the basis for a civil rights lawsuit. The lawyers at Ernst Charara & Lovell, PLC are here to help.
For legal advice and representation for civil rights violations or any other offenses by the police, the government or your employer, contact the attorneys at Ernst Charara & Lovell, PLC today.