Civil rights are defined as the rights to political and social freedom and equality. Discrimination against race and gender, sexual assault and deprivation of basic needs are typical examples of civil rights violations. If you have been a victim of civil rights violations, it is essential to know your options and decide on a proper course of action.
Here are some basic questions to guide you and some moves to make if your civil rights have been abused.
Was A “Protected Right” Violated?
There is a fine line between rights violations and protected rights violations, and it pays to know the difference before reacting negatively. There are instances when you know your rights have been dishonored, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that your fundamental rights have been violated.
Case in point, a landlord who refuses to lease his property to a prospective tenant who owns pets, is within his rights to do so. Even though it may seem unfair to the prospective tenant, the landlord has the right to refuse to lease his property because he may have allergies, other tenants may not want pets around or just as a personal preference.
On the other hand, if a landlord refuses occupancy to his property because the applicant is dark-skinned and with ethnic race, then this is considered a civil rights defilement. Under the federal and state fair housing and anti-discrimination law, everyone regardless of the color of their skin is entitled to a house- a basic human need.
You Have Options Whenever Your Rights Are Violated
In the case of civil rights violations, a person may have the option of settling the problem with filing a claim with the government, informal negotiations, and presenting a lawsuit in court.
In spite of what your favorite legal drama may show, not all legal cases end up in court. A majority are them are resolved through informal negotiations for a couple of reasons: One, it is less costly than a lengthy court battle, and second matters get resolved much faster. For example, an employment discrimination case can be fixed with two parties agreeing on mutually beneficial conditions – severance pays for the aggrieved employee, and in return, he gives up the right to sue his employer.
Filing A Claim With The Government
If you believe that informal negotiations will not work, you may file a complaint with the government at the federal and state level. Doing so will ensue in an investigation to your claims by the agency and the government will proceed to take actions on your behalf. Both victim and offender need not be affiliated with the government for a complaint to be filed. It is important to note, however, that for some types of civil rights cases, it is imperative to present a government claim before any private lawsuit is pursued.
Filing A Private Lawsuit For A Civil Rights Violation
The first consideration in deciding to file a private lawsuit for a civil rights violation is where to file: in federal or state court. In some cases, this will be a person’s personal choice, but in some, this option may be dictated by applicable laws. To illustrate, a person who is filing a health case against a tobacco company must first decide on his chances of getting a favorable verdict basing on which state has stricter tobacco laws. If he believes his case will be mistreated in federal court, he may opt to have it tried in a state court which has a broader scope.
Hire An Attorney To Help With Your Civil Rights Claim
If you believe your civil rights have been violated, hire an attorney. This not only ensures that you get the best representation but civil rights cases as compared to others are more complicated. They involve government agencies and applicable laws – aspects that only an expert lawyer will be able to navigate correctly.