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What are Civil Rights Violations?

— September 9, 2020

Having your civil rights violated at the hands of police is a frightening experience. The public put their trust in law enforcement to serve and protect, and not betray that trust.

You have civil rights that ensure your physical and mental integrity and safety. Civil rights laws protect an individual’s right to be free from discrimination. These rights guarantee equal social, educational, and financial opportunities as well as equal protection under the law. Under civil rights laws you have:

  • The right to vote
  • The right to procedural due process
  • The right to public education
  • The right to use public facilities
  • The right to government services
  • The right to petition the government

Your Rights

Your civil rights are protected by the Constitution of the United States of America, and the federal government is obligated to uphold the Constitution with respect to individual citizen’s basic rights. Certain civil liberties are specified in the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, which make up the Bill of Rights. While the civil rights laws are not written in the Bill of Rights, they do outline the legal protections people have. Below are just a couple of examples of civil rights violations.


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal agency that is responsible for administering and enforcing civil rights laws against workplace discrimination. It is against the law for an employer to terminate or demote an employee or make any other decisions about their employment eligibility on the basis of their:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation

Unfortunately, people can be mistreated based on these characteristics. There are a couple of laws that make more specific protections, such as the Older Workers’ Benefit Protection Act, which protects employees over the age of 40 from discrimination in the workplace. More broadly, it prohibits employers from making employment decisions on the basis of age. Pregnancy discrimination is when a woman is fired, laid off, refused a promotion or inclusion in important training or is not offered a job due to her condition. 

Individuals who have suffered the indignity of civil rights violations by police should seek out a civil rights attorney right away. If you were racially profiled by police or suffered any other form of punishment, then you can file a complaint with the assistance of an experienced lawyer. 

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Hallway of jail cells
Hallway of jail cells; image courtesy of Tom Blackout via Unsplash,

The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishment on individuals. In order for a punishment to be considered cruel and usual, it must be significantly harsher than consequences or sentences given for the same or similar crimes. Imposing a life sentence for running a stop sign would be cruel and unusual, but not for a driving under the influence (DUI) crash that involved fatalities.

Unreasonable Search and Seizure

It is the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and this right is protected by the Fourth Amendment. When the amendment was written, the British government would often issue general warrants to search the homes and belongings of the colonials. These warrants were issued without any cause and were invasive. They contributed to the conflict that eventually led to the Revolutionary War because the colonials wanted protection from government intrusion.

How a Civil Rights Attorney Can Help

Having your civil rights violated at the hands of police is a frightening experience. The public put their trust in law enforcement to serve and protect, and not betray that trust. But if your civil rights have been violated, then you will need a successful civil rights attorney fighting for you. 

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