What is a Civil Rights Attorney?
Civil rights are those rights that individual in the United States are guaranteed through the Constitution that allow citizens individual freedoms to be free of unwarranted intrusions by the government and private institutions Civil rights protect an individual from discrimination and oppression through the curtailment and suppression of constitutional rights granted the constitution as well as discrimination actions by employers or the federal or state governments. These include discrimination based on age, gender, race, ethnicity and other protected classes. Civil rights also protect an individuals right to speech, assembly, and religion.
Civil Rights lawyers represent clients in actions in civil actions against the government or private institutions that have been discriminated against due to any of these situations. Civil Rights attorneys also represent clients who have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace as well as those who have been denied their Constitutional rights of speech, assembly, religion or the press.
Types of Civil Rights Violations
Discrimination occurs when a business, the government, or an employer adversely treats an individual, either on its face or in effect, because of a specific characteristic deemed to be within a protected class. The federal government, beginning with the Civil Rights Act, has created numerous federal statues in order to protect individuals from discrimination from the government and from employers. Beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and later including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, The Americans with Disabilities Act, The Equal Pay Act and numerous others the federal government has made it a point of giving individuals a cause of action for discriminatory practices in the workplace. These anti-discrimination statutes also protect individuals from being negatively treated in housing, employment, lending, access to businesses and education. Discrimination often is not on its face but is shown in effect. This is based on decisions by the government and private institutions that do not look discriminatory but the result of the practice produces adverse effects upon a certain class of individuals. If you think that you have been denied opportunities and discrimination has played a part in adverse decisions involving your employment, housing, lending, education or anything else then a Civil Rights attorney may be necessary to remedy the situation. The constitution protects different “classes” in different ways. Some “classes,” such as race, are afforded more protections than others. Sex is considered a secondary classification and protections are not as strict as others. Civil Rights Attorneys will be able to inform you of whether you are a protected class to which you are afforded certain anti-discrimination protections.
Civil rights attorneys will also be able to represent you in actions involving your first amendment rights to freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and others. The idea of freedom of speech is something that most individuals see as a “birth right” and is not subject to curtailment. This is false thinking. There are a number of restrictions on the freedoms given in the first amendment such as time/place/ manner, encitement, obscenity and others. If your constitutional rights have been impeded by the government or then it is a good decision to contact a civil rights attorney to defend your rights.
Harassment is another type of a civil rights violation in which an individual, usually an employee , suffers from unwanted verbal, or physical,actions from an employer or co-worker due to their gender, or sexual orientation. Harassment, under the law, is considered a type of discrimination based on someones gender. It occurs when an employee is ridiculed, inappropriately touched, verbally accosted or made to feel uncomfortable in the workplace due to their gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. When you have been harassed during your employment you must first inform your employer or co-worker that the actions are unacceptable. This is important, if you don’t notify the individual or the supervisor of the inappropriate action then the defendant will have the defense of never being warned. If the inappropriate behavior has continued or resulted in an adverse or uncomfortable employment situation then you may want to contact an Civil Rights attorney.
Civil rights violations do not automatically go to a civil litigation phase. Before you may sue for a discriminatory practice an individual must first file a complaint with the EEOC. An individual has 180 to file a complaint with the EEOC from the date of the discriminatory practice. Other states may allow extensions of this depending on certain factors. Your Civil rights attorney will know more about these exceptions. Since there is such a short period of time to file a claim it is important that you contact a civil rights attorney once you feel your rights have been violated.
Where do I find a Civil Rights attorney?
If you are a citizen of the United States and your constitutional rights have been violated or you have been discriminated against, or harassed then you will have many options in finding a Civil Rights attorney. Almost all law firms have websites that can be easily accessed through a basic internet search. These websites will often give detailed descriptions of the civil rights attorneys areas of practice, education, certificates, and results that they have attained through representing clients.
If you need to find an exceptional civil rights attorney may also go the website of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU handles all kinds of matters involving civil rights and civil liberties. By going to their website at www.ACLU.org you can search for an affiliate office in your area who may be able to put you in touch with Civil Rights lawyers to help you with a legal problem involving the violation of your civil rights.
Laws.com also has a valuable referral service. Go to this page and clicking on “find a lawyer” link for laws.com referral service. By inputting your location, name, contact information, and a brief description of your legal problem, laws.com will be able to put you in touch with a civil rights attorney in you area that will help you.