Lawsuits for Civil Rights Violations and Discrimination

If you feel you have been the victim of a civil rights violation, you probably have the option of filing a lawsuit against those responsible for the damages that you have suffered as a result. Here are some things to keep in mind before filing a lawsuit for a violation of civil rights, including the requirement to submit a claim to the government before filing a lawsuit in certain types of cases, the choice of the place for filing the lawsuit (federal court or state court) and what to expect after doing so.

Before Filing a Lawsuit: Do You Need to File a Government Claim

For certain types of complaints of discrimination and violation of civil rights, you MUST file a lawsuit or complaint with a federal or state agency BEFORE initiating a private lawsuit in court, and these agencies typically set strict time limits for filing the claim. For example, for allegations of almost all types of employment discrimination, the plaintiff (that is to say, an employee who reports discrimination) must file a petition before the Commission for Equal Opportunities in the Employment (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC) before a private lawsuit, and must do so within 180 days of the alleged offense. Only after receiving permission from the EEOC may initiate a private lawsuit. This authorization is generally granted in the form of a letter of the “law of demand” issued by the EEOC, generally, once collected sufficient evidence to prove that there has been a violation of civil rights.

State agencies may also investigate a complaint for civil rights violations or discrimination and may work in conjunction with a federal agency (or its replacement). For example, employees who report a workplace discrimination in California may file a complaint with the Department of fair Employment and Housing of California. As part of its standard procedure, the state agency usually will send the complaint to the EEOC at the federal level in order to become a “double presentation”.

A lawyer specializing in civil rights will be able to tell if you should file a claim of the government in his case.

Lawsuits in Federal and State Court

Once you decide to bring a lawsuit for a civil rights violation, one of the first things to take into account will be the place of presentation: in a federal or state court. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, the choice could depend on you, or be specified by a law. For example, a federal law (title 42, section 1981a of the United States Code) specifically allows for file a private lawsuit for damages and economic damages to an employee who has been the victim of employment discrimination intentional. Then, if you believe that your demand will be employment discrimination intentional, present it to a federal court. However, depending on where you live, your state may have a law similar and allow you to choose where to file his lawsuit (in state or federal court).

What to expect in a lawsuit

The demands for a civil rights violation will be presented and will be handled in a civil court (civil court, federal or state, as discussed above). In a civil case, the person reporting a violation of civil rights (the “plaintiff”) files a “complaint” before the court. The complaint describes certain facts and allegations in an attempt to prove that the other party (the “defendant”) is responsible for the civil rights violation alleged in the complaint and the harm suffered by the plaintiff as a result. Ultimately, if the cause for civil rights goes to trial, the plaintiff must prove by a “preponderance of evidence” that the defendant is legally responsible for the damage reported.

A civil case usually complete includes the following main phases:

  • Commencement of the case: court documents initial
  • Research and evidence-gathering
  • Resolution before trial: Pleas
  • Resolution before trial: settlement/alternative dispute resolution of the conflict
  • Trial and Verdict
  • After a judgment: Collecting money
  • Appeals

Lawsuits for civil rights violations: How to ask for a lawyer to help you

If you believe you have been the victim of a violation of civil rights, the first step is to talk with a lawyer who specializes in civil rights. Important decisions related to your case can be complicated, such as which laws apply, whether you should file your claim before the government and where to submit it. A lawyer who specializes in civil rights will evaluate all aspects of your case and explain the options you have at your disposal to ensure the best possible outcome.

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