Civil Rights FAQs
The civil rights attorneys at Kupets & DeCaro, P.C. represent individuals who have been injured by police misconduct. Police misconduct may involve one or more of the following: police shootings, illegal searches, unlawful arrests, wrongful convictions, and excessive force.
Contact Kupets & DeCaro, P.C. today for a free case evaluation and to discuss how we can help protect your rights. Below are some FAQ’s related to Civil Rights matters.
Q. Exactly what are civil rights?
A. Civil rights are an individual’s rights to receive equal treatment in any number of settings. This includes but is not limited to equal treatment in housing, education, employment and other areas. These rights are not the same as human rights, which are more basic.
Historically, the term “civil rights” is derived from the “Civil Rights Movement” of the 1960s when African Americans marched to achieve true equality in all areas of society. Today, civil rights has expanded to describe the promotion of equality for all people regardless of their race, sex, age, disability, nationality, religion or other characteristics.
In the U.S., three bodies of legislation define civil rights-the Bill of Rights, the 13th and 14th amendments to the constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Q. What is the basis for a civil rights claim?
A. Civil rights claims exist because certain rights are guaranteed under federal law. If someone denies these rights, you may have the basis for a civil rights claim. The following list gives you some idea of situations that violate the civil rights laws of this country.
- A hospital refuses to admit you because you don’t appear to have financial ability to pay for your hospitalization expenses. If harm comes to you or your loved one, you may have an additional claim for personal injuries or wrongful death.
- An apartment complex refuses to rent to you because of your ethnic, religious or apparent economic status. Contact the local HUD office to report housing interference as well as contacting a civil rights attorney.
- A restaurant refuses to serve you because you appear to belong to a certain ethnic group.
- A club denies you membership because of your race or gender.
- An employer hires someone less qualified because they are unwilling to accommodate your religious beliefs.
- A polling booth denies access for any reason other than that you have already voted or are not registered to vote.
- An employer exploits you because you are a migrant worker, refusing to compensate you for your labor. Report this violation immediately to 312-372-4444. This is the number for the Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force. The office is open from 9 to 5 EST from Monday through Friday.
- A caller threatens your life over the phone. Contact the FBI or your local police department immediately.
Q. What should I do if I think I have been discriminated against on the job in violation of the law?
A. Normally it is best to bring your complaint directly to your supervisor and attempt to resolve matters at that level. Your supervisor may not be aware that discrimination is going on. When this does not resolve the issue, you may decide to pursue legal counsel.
Act quickly if you have been discriminated against because there are strict limits on the time you have to file a claim. State and Federal laws apply, so an experienced civil rights attorney is essential. Unless an attorney practices in civil rights law, he or she may not be well equipped to handle the intricate laws that are involved in these cases.
What are the steps I need to take if my employer has violated my civil rights?
A. Start by keeping a detailed journal of events. Don’t worry about your writing skills. The more carefully you record events, the easier it is for a civil rights attorney to reconstruct the events surrounding your civil rights claim. This makes it easier to accurately evaluate the strength of your case.
Gathering evidence that will support your claim is important. Try to gather this information before you bring action against your employer. It may be impossible to do so afterwards. Here is some of the evidence attorneys use to support civil rights claims:
- Written or spoken comments. Securing notarized witness statements for spoken comments makes them stronger evidence.
- Time and place of an incident. This information can suggest bias on the part of the person or employer that has violated your civil rights.
- Differences between you and the violator. These differences could be ethnic, religious, economic or any number of additional differences. They can be used to support the probability that the violation took place.
- Background of violator. If the person who violated your civil rights is a known member of a hate group, this could suggest that bias existed at the time of the incident.
Q. Is my employer liable for my hostile environment harassment?
A. This depends on who is creating the hostile environment. The employer is responsible for supervisors and managers who are perpetrators of a hostile work environment unless they can prove that they have exercised reasonable action to prevent and correct the behavior.
When the harassment is from coworkers or customers, the employer is also responsible if the employer has been negligent in addressing the problem. Employers need to prove that they exercised reasonable care in preventing the behavior. Retaining an employee with a history of civil rights violations does not reflect reasonable care.
There are many details involved in harassment cases. An experienced civil rights attorney can expertly assess your case and advise you of your rights.
Q. How should I go about finding a lawyer who knows my type of case?
A. You must feel comfortable and trust that your attorney is on your side. First, you need to feel at ease with telling him or her honestly and completely all details necessary to resolve your problem. At Kupets & DeCaro, we appreciate potential clients who confirm that we are a good match.
Q. I was fired last week and I have no idea why. Do I have a case?
A. You may have a case if it can be proved that there was no legitimate reason for you to be fired. There are many civil rights laws that prohibit an employer from firing an employee for reasons based on race, sex, religion, nationality, color, age, or disability.
State and federal laws apply in these cases and an experienced civil rights attorney can best evaluate the details of your situation and advise you of the best course of action to take.
Q. Is there anyone I can’t file a claim against?
A. If the civil rights violation was intentional, you may file a civil rights claim against an individual who is acting as an agent of a state or local government. Certain government officials who are acting within the scope of their official duties, such as judges, legislators, prosecutors or a parole or probation officers are exempt from civil rights action.
Q. What does federal law allow me to seek in damages?
A. Federal law allows you to seek three things. First, you can seek monetary damages appropriate to the facts of the case. Second, you can seek a court injunction that requires the defendant to do something or to stop doing something. Finally, you can seek declaratory relief. This court document states that the court has investigated your claim and found that your claim is in the right.
Contact the Civil Rights Lawyers at Kupets & DeCaro, P.C. today for a free case evaluation and to discuss how we can help protect your rights.
DISCLAIMER: All answers to the hypothetical questions contained herein are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to be construed as legal advice. Kupets & DeCaro P.C. shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein.