Civil Rights Claims
Our Constitution provides numerous protections for its citizens, and these protections are often referred to as our civil rights. However, just like any legal issue, it is up to aggrieved party(s) to assert their claims for any civil rights violations. This means it is up to you to either file a complaint on your own, or seek out the help of a licensed attorney to purse your claims for you. These claims may be pursued under section 1983 of the U.S. Code. It is a civil rights complaint that allows you to seek redress against the state or federal agency that have violated your rights.
This article provides basic information about filing discrimination and other civil rights claims; the importance of filing your claim with the government before initiating a lawsuit; the government’s role in enforcing civil rights laws; and related information.
Determining Whether Your Civil Rights Have Been Violated
Understanding the difference between rights and civil rights vitally important. This means that just because your rights have been violated doesn’t necessarily mean your civil rights were violated. What matters for these types of claims is whether a “protected right” — that is, a right conferred to protected classes of individuals — has been violated. For example, if you are a prison inmate who was brutally beaten by a prison guard, then it is likely have a valid civil rights claim, since inmates are constitutionally protected from cruel and unusual punishment. Common claims will involve violation under equal protections, unreasonable searches and seizure, and due process. But that list is not exclusive.
However, if you fail to comply with requirements for entrance to a public event and are thereby denied access, then regardless of your skin color, creed, religion, etc.. your civil rights have not been violated.
Filing a Civil Rights Claim with the Appropriate State of Federal Agency
If you suspect that your civil rights have been violated, you may choose to file a formal claim with the state or federal government. Some states offer more protected rights than the federal government, so make sure you explore your options. This is a required process before you can actually file a lawsuit. This serves to put the agency on notice of your claim, and they will take the necessary steps toward potentially resolving your claims with their agency, or the agency that has aggrieved you.
Once you file your claim with the appropriate government agency, they will begin an internal investigation to determine whether your claim has any merit. This is helpful because the agency has resources at its disposal that we can take advantage of in investigating your claim. If they believe your claim has merit, then some state agencies may also file federal complaints on your behalf. This is known as dual filing and is a strong indictment that will likely boost your claims against the public agency that has violated your civil rights.
It is important to note that there are different agencies charged with enforcing different types of civil rights violations. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is in charge of employment violations and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) handles disability discrimination complaints. Each agency will have its own processes for taking complaints, but they usually offer standard forms for us to fill out and turn in.
Filing Suit Against the State of Federal Agency
In addition to filing a complaint with the proper state or federal agency, you may also file a private lawsuit against the offending party with either the state or federal court. This will, of course, depend on the specifics of your case and where you are located. Just remember that for many civil rights violations, you will need to file a complaint with the corresponding state or federal agency before filing a civil complaint in court. This is a necessary step that needs to be taken before seeking any judicial remedy.
If you have a civil rights claim and would like to file a private suit, you need to seek the services of a trained attorney.
Call Guest and Gray today!
At Guest and Gray, we believe a violation of your rights is a violation of everyone’s rights. Because of this we must fight to protect the freedoms we all hold so dear. We take your claims very seriously. If you believe your civil rights have been violated. Our staff of attorneys will file your claims with the appropriate state or federal agency. We will fight for you until justice is served.