Civil Rights Law
You’ve heard people complain that their “civil rights” have been violated, but what does that really mean?
“Civil rights” are the rights of personal liberty guaranteed to every U. S. citizen, regardless of race, religion, sex, age or disabilities. The underlying principle is that no one should be punished for the circumstances into which they were born.
You need to know what your civil rights are in order to protect them. Civil rights in the U.S. are vital because they protect people from being mistreated. They are the rights of people to be free from discrimination and unfair treatment and to be treated equally in multiple settings.
While civil rights regulate the way a government must protect you from discrimination, civil liberties detail the freedoms to which you are entitled in a democracy.
What to Do if You’ve Been Discriminated Against
So what should you do if you think you’ve been discriminated against? Your first consideration should be whether or not you’ve been damaged, and to what extent. If you haven’t suffered any actual monetary damages, but have only been embarrassed or offended (without any lasting psychological impact), it’s not likely to be worth the stress to launch into litigation over the matter.
You must have evidence of a discriminatory motive. Otherwise, a judge will quickly dismiss your case. It’s important to gather as much documentation as possible because these kinds of cases are difficult to win.
You must prove there’s been a pattern of unfairness against other people who have the same protected characteristics as you. For example, is a government agency not hiring or laying off people over a certain age?
Important Civil Liberties Protected by Our Constitution Include the Right to:
- Speak openly
- Assemble freely
- Not be falsely arrested or maliciously prosecuted
- Due process should you be tried in court
- Freedom from excessive bails and fines, and cruel and unusual punishment
- A speedy and public trial, sometimes by a jury
- Equal protection of the laws, regardless of your personal circumstances
- Privacy from unreasonable and unwarranted government intrusion into your home and personal affairs
If One of Your Civil Liberties May Have Been Violated by the Government
Record all the details while they’re fresh in your mind. Who said what to whom? Did anyone witness it? Detailed documentation can make or break your case.
If there’s an administrative process for complaining, follow through. For instance, most police departments have internal review boards to investigate alleged police brutality and other misconduct. Take whatever steps are necessary to complain to the proper authorities within the governmental agency where the problem occurred.
Get a reality check from a national or local organization that has experience with the type of problem you’ve encountered. Groups like the ACLU or NAACP may be able to give you practical help and connect you with an attorney or other professional who can help.
Contact local media to publicly air your complaint. While you can’t guarantee how the story will be covered, it’s a way to get your complaint out in the open, and inform others who may have experienced problems similar to yours.
Talk with a lawyer who handles civil rights and civil liberties cases to find out whether your case is one of the few it might be practical to take to court.
While there’s no guarantee you’ll be satisfied by the reaction of the governmental agency where the abuse occurred, action on your part should make it less likely that the abuse will continue into the future.
Contact the Laufer Law Group for the knowledge, care, and experience your case needs.
Laufer Law Group Can Help You.
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