Often, people think of civil rights as core values that everyone should aim to protect. Hence, the civil rights movement. But in truth, the government has set laws and regulations to protect these rights. There are consequences when these rights are violated. Victims have the right to file a complaint against the offender and claim compensation.
But how do you know if the incident truly violates your civil rights? First, it’s critical to understand what civil rights are and when they are violated. Lastly, knowing what you can do when you believe your civil rights are violated is essential.
What are Civil Rights?
Civil rights ensure everyone has equal social opportunities and protection under the law regardless of color, race, national origin, and other characteristics. It is unlike human rights or natural rights, whereby people acquire them inherently. Civil rights are given and guaranteed by the power of the state.
Therefore, civil rights vary in culture, over time, and in the form of government a state or country has. In a democratic country, like the U.S., the Constitution and federal laws guarantee civil rights to every citizen. Then, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces these rights. Included in your civil rights is the prohibition of discrimination based on color, race, national origin, disability, religion, age, and sex (i.e., sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy).
To apply for free, call (877) 735-0016
When Rights are Violated
“Civil rights” is a broad term. Hence, violations can take on many forms. Here are some examples:
Discrimination against sex/gender identity
Example 1: Public Setting
For example, a homosexual man sat in a restaurant and waited for the waiter. Upon knowing the sexual orientation of the customer, the waiter refuses to provide services. This is an example of a civil rights violation due to discrimination against the customer’s sexual orientation. The restaurant or its servers cannot deny anyone services based on their sex or sexual orientation.
Example 2: The Workplace
Another example of discrimination against sex or sexual orientation happens at work. This may include harassment, making offensive remarks about the person’s sex, or forbidding one from getting equal opportunities at work. Examples of discrimination at work due to sex and gender are:
- Rejection for promotion
- Not getting a raise
- Being paid less than other co-workers
- Not given responsibilities at work
- Given more work than others
Example 3: Education
Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 discusses sexual equality in education. It prohibits discrimination against college and high school students based on their sex.
There’s a violation when a student who identifies as part of the LGBT experiences extreme name calling and bullying at school due to his gender identity. If the school doesn’t take action to stop the bullying and other forms of harassment, they may face a civil rights suit.
Discrimination based on race or color
Race discrimination happens when one experience unequal treatment because of one’s race.
Racial profiling targets focus on minority racial groups. Some believe that certain racial groups are more likely to commit crimes than others.
Due to their skin color, some do not get equal treatment in schools, housing, and employment. Let’s say an Asian American child is enrolled in a school but doesn’t get the same materials as everybody else, not because she has bad grades but because of her race or origin.
Say an African American woman goes to a local hardware store near closing time. The store denies her entry, saying that they’re almost closing anyway. However, another white individual was able to enter the store after the African American woman was told that the store was about to close.
There is a civil rights action against the store for denying equal property rights to all citizens regardless of race or color.
What Qualifies as a Violation
Not all offenses are a violation of civil rights. There has to be a stated action that harms your rights for it to become a civil rights violation. For example, if a teacher silences you in class, that’s not a violation of your right to education. A counselor can deny a marriage license if there are other circumstances. This does not necessarily violate your sex or gender identity.
There are violations when there is unfair and blatant treatment against you by other people, especially bosses, landlords, store owners, and others with more power than you have in the given situation.
What To Do Next
Suppose you believe that you, your family, or your friends are subject to discrimination, harassment, or institutional sexual abuse. In this case, you need to contact an attorney to help you with the process. You are entitled to compensation, but this is a lengthy and complex legal process. Before you can have a formal lawsuit, you must file a claim/complaint with a state agency.
You must file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for employment discrimination. Filing the paperwork within 180 days of when the act happened is required. Time is critical for cases such as this one. However, you can provide a good cause to extend your 180 day limit.
This is why legal representatives are helpful. They guide you through the process and let you know what you’re required to submit, where to submit the requirements, and can oftentimes provide the chances for winning your case. Additionally, they can help ensure you get a reasonable settlement in the end. Civil rights attorneys have exceptional knowledge of the law. They can show you how your civil rights are violated and how the law can help you get the justice you deserve.
The two parties may decide to settle before the case goes to court. If no settlement is reached, your legal representative carries your case to trial and proves the case by a preponderance of the evidence. Your attorney has to confirm that the defendant violated the law and is legally responsible for the damages.
If you have a pending discrimination lawsuit and need financial support until a settlement is reached, contact us to learn more and see if your case qualifies.