Civil Rights

Civil Rights Law Attorney

A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, and assembly; the right to vote; freedom from involuntary servitude; and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. Various jurisdictions have enacted statutes to prevent discrimination based on a person’s race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances sexual orientation.

The most important expansions of civil rights in the United States occurred as a result of the enactment of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery throughout the United States. See U.S. Const. amend. XIII. In response to the Thirteenth Amendment, various states enacted “black codes” that were intended to limit the civil rights of the newly free slaves.

In 1868 the Fourteenth Amendment countered these “black codes” by stating that no state “shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the citizens of the United States… or deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” See U.S. Const. amend. XIV. Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment gave Congress the power by section five of the Fourteenth Amendment to pass any laws needed to enforce the Amendment.

Claims against governmental entities can be difficult to prove and are vigorously defended by experienced trial lawyers. These claims have pre-suit notice requirements and short statute of limitations. Whether you have been involved in an accident with a bus, slipped and fell on governmental property or been the victim of excessive force at the hands of a law enforcement officer, you need legal counsel that has experience handling public sector litigation.

While the law prohibits harassment towards protected classes of individuals, sexual harassment is by far the most common claim made out of those categories. Harassment based on sex or gender includes not only harassment directed towards physical differences between the sexes, but also amongst the same sexes and even stereotypes and attitudes about the sexes. While the term “sex” denotes the biological differences between males and females, gender refers to the cultural implications attached to each sex.

Hostile work environment occurs when the sexual harassment creates an abusive work situation which is severe or pervasive. Factors such as the nature of the unwelcome sexual acts or works, the frequency of the offensive encounters, the total number of days over which all of the offensive conduct occurs and the context in which the sexually harassing conduct occurred is considered by the court. Harassing conduct must be found severe and pervasive enough to create an objectively hostile or abusive work environment, an environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive which requires both, and also that the victim subjectively perceives the environment to be abusive. It is unlawful for an employer to fail to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring.