One of the greatest things about being an American is that our civil rights are protected by the US Constitution that our system of government is based on. If those civil rights were violated, you have several options for protecting yourself and recovering the damage that was inflicted.
Whether you were a victim of sexual harassment, discrimination because of your race, age, or religious beliefs, or you were a victim of police misconduct, you may not know what what legal leverage you have in the situation. The following legal advice comes from civil rights and injury lawyers who specialize in your exact situation, to give you guidance on your options for recourse after your civil rights are violated.
Determine if Your Personal Right That Was Violated is Protected by Law
Even if the circumstances that happened to you were terrible and painful (and seem illegal), your civil right or injury lawyer can only fight for your case if there is a civil rights or anti-discrimination law that prohibits the actions of the other party. Unfortunately, many terrible situations are not protected by law, which limits the legal recourse you can take. If you are not sure the laws that protect you in the particular situation you are in, scheduling a legal consultation with a civil rights or injury lawyer is a good idea. These types of meetings, to determine the legal standing you have in your discrimination situation, are short and simple, and often inexpensive or even free.
Determine Your Course of Action
If your attorney determines that there are civil rights laws in place that were violated in the way you were treated, you have several options for recourse:
- An Informal Settlement
Sometimes, pursuing your civil rights violation through the official court of law is painful, time-consuming, and costly to you. Since it is an equally unpleasant course of action for the party that discriminated against you (not to mention the press associated with your case can have a negative impact on the reputation of the accused), sometimes both parties will agree to negotiate a settlement outside of court, with the oversight and guidance of each party’s attorneys. Once the settlement has been reached, the injured party signs an agreement that foregoes their right to sue over the matter, and sometimes ensures that they will not publicly discuss the circumstances.
The plaintiff benefits from negotiating out of court as it helps them get a settlement faster, with less pain. The defendant also benefits from this by protecting their reputation and avoiding the extra cost and hassle of the legal process.
- Filing an Official Claim
Unfortunately, many times, the person or party who violated your civil rights is not willing to acknowledge their actions, or cooperate with you. In these cases, you can file a complaint with the appropriate government agency, and they will work on your behalf to enforce your civil rights for you. Depending on the nature of your civil rights violation, you will need to take the matter either to a state or federal entity to have it investigated and settled. It is important to note that this does not necessarily provide any compensation to you for your mistreatment (unless the party who violated your civil rights was a government entity), but in many cases, this is a necessary step before filing a private lawsuit anyway.
- Filing a Private Lawsuit
After a government entity has confirmed that the circumstances of your case did involve a violation of your civil rights, in order to be compensated for the pain that was suffered, you will need to file a private lawsuit. Your civil rights or injury lawyer can help you decide if your case should be handled through the federal or state court, and how to proceed with your allegations. After filing a grievance with the appropriate government agency, your attorney will help you file a complaint with the court, that will be sent to the defendant. They are required to respond to your allegations within a certain time period, and then a judge or jury will review the facts of the case and make the appropriate judgement.
Do you have any information on filing a civil rights violation grievance? Please share your insight in the comment section.