Civil rights are basic human rights established and guarded by the U.S. Constitution. Examples of these rights include:
• Voting rights;
• Protection against discrimination due to sexual orientation, age, race, gender or religion;
• Freedom of speech.
Over the years, there have been quite a few federal laws and amendments to the Constitution enacted to better protect our personal rights, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Civil Rights Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Equal Pay Act.
What Should I Do if My Civil Rights Have Been Violated?
If you have been the victim of a civil rights violation, there are steps in place that you can rely on to guide you through the process of making sure your mistreatment does not continue or go unpunished and your situation is improved, including:
1. If you feel safe doing so, inform those who have violated your rights that their treatment of you is unacceptable.
2. If the offense took place at work or involves some other type of organization with a governing body, such as a school, club or charitable organization, find out how to properly file a complaint internally and do so.
3. If you are unsatisfied with the outcome of the internal complaint, filing a complaint with a state or federal agency would be your next step. For instance, if the violation involved your job, then you would contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
4. If you exhaust all of the administrative agency’s options for settling your complaint, your final step would be to contact a qualified civil rights attorney and file a lawsuit.
Lawyers That Handle Civil Rights Cases
While first and foremost civil rights litigation is about defending your personal rights, it is also a way to help and/or get justice for other victims who have faced or will face similar mistreatment.