The U.S. Constitution and the constitutions in each state, along with federal and state statutes, recognize various civil rights of people. When people have their civil rights violated, they may be entitled to file legal claims to either recover financial compensation or to effect some sort of change. 

What Are Civil Rights?

In the U.S., civil rights are considered rights that every person inherently has – they are not “granted” to people by the government. However, when speaking of civil rights, people are normally referring to the rights that have been recognized by the government, such as by the federal or state constitution, by case law, or by statute. Examples of civil rights include:

  • Equal protection under and due process of law, including the right to not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, national origin, religious belief, or sex/gender
  • Freedom of religion
  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of the press
  • Freedom of assembly and protest
  • Right against unreasonable searches and seizures
  • Right to legal counsel when placed under criminal prosecution

Civil Rights Violations at Work

Civil rights violations may be committed by the government, but they can also be committed by private entities. Employers are often the subject of claims of civil rights violations by employees. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is the federal law that codifies an employee’s civil rights in the workplace. A civil rights violation may occur at work when an employee is subjected to an adverse employment action due to a protected characteristic, such as race, religious belief, sex, or age. Examples of adverse employment actions that may give rise to civil rights violations at work include:

  • Being passed over for a promotion or raise
  • Being paid less than similarly situated co-workers
  • Not being given responsibilities or being given less desirable job duties
  • Being assigned extra work or being assigned to less preferable duty shifts
  • Being subject to transfers or changes in job responsibilities

Civil Rights Violations in Education

Title IX of the Civil Rights Act codifies the civil rights that students are entitled to while attending an educational institution that receives federal funding – this covers most institutions in the U.S. Civil rights violations that may occur in education include:

  • Being denied admission to an educational program
  • Being denied access to courses
  • Being denied scholarships
  • Being denied the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities, such as school sports

Civil Rights Violations in Housing

State and federal laws have also been put in place to protect people’s civil rights when they seek housing. For example, it is unlawful for landlords to deny prospective tenants or take adverse actions against tenants on the basis of:

  • Race, color, or national origin
  • Religious belief
  • Sex/gender
  • Family status
  • Disability

Realtors and financial institutions are also typically prohibited by law from discriminating against prospective homebuyers based on these factors.

Civil Rights Violations by Law Enforcement

Finally, civil rights claims often arise in the context of law enforcement, usually when criminal suspects allege that police engaged in violations such as:

  • Use of excessive force
  • Illegal search and seizure, meaning without a warrant and in the absence of exigent circumstances that might excuse the need for a warrant
  • Violation of Miranda rights, or the right to remain silent and to be provided legal counsel
  • False arrest and imprisonment

Civil rights violations by law enforcement may terminate a criminal prosecution or overturn a conviction, and also may entitle the victim of the violation to financial compensation. 

Contact a Rochelle Park Civil Rights Lawyer to Discuss Your Case in New Jersey

Did you or a loved one incur damages and financial losses due to a civil rights violation in New Jersey? Right now, you need an aggressive civil rights attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. represent clients harmed in Fair Lawn, Fort Lee, Garfield, Mahwah, and throughout New Jersey. Call (201) 380-7687 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 340 West Passaic Street, Rochelle Park, NJ 07662.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.