In the United States, you are guaranteed certain rights by the U.S. Constitution. That same document provides the foundation for a free, fair, and just society. The rights, liberties, and protections found in the Constitution are taken very seriously in America, particularly when they are violated. If your civil rights have been violated by an employer, an individual, or a governmental agency, you may have remedies available under the law.
At the Law Offices of Adam M. Thompson, P.C. we understand the personal, and often sensitive, nature of a civil rights violation. We are committed to zealously defending your civil rights and aggressively pursuing a claim against anyone who has violated them. If you have suffered a civil rights violation in New York City, please contact our firm now by calling 212-267-2424 or by filling out our contact form. Our firm is proud to represent individuals throughout New York State and New Jersey.
Types of Civil Rights Cases
The U.S. Constitution guarantees you a number of civil rights. Unfortunately, any of those civil rights could be violated by an individual, an employer, a company, or a governmental actor. Some of the more common types of civil rights cases we handle include:
- Employment discrimination—The law is clear: an employer cannot discriminate on the basis of protected characteristics such as age, race, ethnic background, national origin, religion, disability, marital status, or sex. Individual state laws often provide additional protected classes such as “gender” (gender identity). An employer who makes hiring, firing, or promotional decisions based on any of these characteristics is in violation of the law.
- Discrimination in housing and/or public accommodations—It is illegal for privately owned facilities that offer food, lodging, gasoline or entertainment to the public to discriminate on the basis of the same protected classes (age, race, ethnic background, national origin, religion, disability, marital status, or sex). Likewise, you cannot be discriminated against when applying for public housing or other state or federal benefits on the basis of a protected characteristic.
- False arrest or imprisonment—If a defendant in a criminal case believes that he or she was falsely arrested and/or is being falsely imprisoned, a lawsuit may be filed in civil court. Known as a “Section 1983” case after the applicable federal statute (42 USC 1983), these cases require a defendant to prove that he was wrongfully convicted or that he was arrested but acquitted, or that the charges were dropped.
- First amendment freedoms—The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides for freedom of religion, speech, and of the press, as well as the right to assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances. There are a virtually endless number of ways in which one, or more, of these freedoms can be violated.
- Police misconduct or excessive force—While law enforcement officers are frequently required to use physical force to restrain a suspect and/or protect the public, the law does not allow the force used to be excessive. Moreover, law enforcement officers are not exempt from the laws they enforce. In fact, both federal and state laws specifically protect citizens from an over-zealous police force. For example, federal law makes it a crime “for one or more persons acting under color of law willfully to deprive or conspire to deprive another person of any right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” [Emphasis added] The “color of law” may refer to a law enforcement agency or any other situation wherein power has been granted by the government. It is also illegal for State or local law enforcement officers to “engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” These (and other) laws are often used in a civil rights lawsuit based on police misconduct or excessive force.
How Civil Rights Cases Are Different than Other Civil Litigation
Although civil rights lawsuits are handled in civil court, there are a number of procedural rules that cause civil rights cases to stand apart from other civil lawsuits. Often, failing to understand and follow these procedural steps can result in forever losing the right to pursue your claim. For example, when a government actor is named as a defendant, a special notice must be filed with the appropriate agency within a relatively short period of time after the incident or injury that led to the complaint. Failing to file this required notice can forever bar you from pursuing a claim. In addition, government actors often have “immunity” that must be considered when evaluating a civil rights violation. The key to a successful civil rights lawsuit is having an experienced civil rights attorney on your side from the beginning.
A violation of your civil rights can cause lasting damage. Civil rights claims are legal in nature, but deeply personal at heart. At the Law Offices of Adam M. Thompson, P.C. we understand how important a civil rights case is to everyone involved, which is why we are dedicated to standing behind a victim throughout the often lengthy process of seeking justice. Contact us today by calling (212) 267-2424 or by filling out our online contact form.