The U.S. Constitution and federal and state laws provide all residents of Florida and the United States certain civil rights that are meant to guarantee equal social and economic opportunities and equal protection under the law, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics.
If you have been denied your right to full and equal participation in our society, a Tallahassee civil rights lawyer from Cruz Law Firm, P.A. can review your case and help you seek justice through negotiations, a state or federal Civil Rights Division claim, or a lawsuit. Our attorneys have nearly two decades of combined legal experience in civil rights cases and know first-hand what it takes to protect the rights of hardworking people in Tallahassee and northern Florida. We have litigated over a 100 civil rights cases.
The Cruz Law Firm is committed to providing each of our clients with dedicated and aggressive legal representation and personalized service, no matter how complex their case is. We know it can be difficult to take a stand against discrimination, but we are ready to fight with you and do whatever we can to obtain justice and accountability for you.
Contact Cruz Law today for a free and confidential legal consultation about your case with a civil rights attorney in Tallahassee.
Common Civil Rights Violations
There are numerous ways an individual’s civil rights may be violated. They may range from retaliating against you for expressing yourself, a violation of your First Amendment right to free speech, to depriving you of your right to buy or rent a home, a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
Civil rights laws are meant to protect individuals from unlawful discrimination, harassment, or abuse in various situations, like housing, the workplace, school, when voting, businesses, healthcare, public spaces, and more. Federal laws prohibit discrimination against a person based on their national origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or familial status.
Civil rights complaints often involve acts of violence based on the victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, such as desecration of property, verbal or written threats, physical assault, or homicide. Many civil rights violations are known as “color of law violations,” a term that describes the abuse of power under the guise of state or governmental authority.
Among the civil rights afforded to anyone in the United States, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, are the right to:
Express their views in spoken, written, or electronic form
Peacefully assemble and express shared ideas
Receive government services
Use public facilities
Engage in commerce (buy, sell, trade, and transport goods and services)
Receive a public education
Be free from unreasonable search and seizure
Due process and a fair trial if charged with a crime
Practice their religion
The Benefits of Hiring a Civil Rights Lawyer
If you have been subjected to a violation of your civil rights, a Tallahassee civil rights lawyer from Cruz Law can help you advocate for your rights and protect your interests. Civil rights claims can be very complicated. Numerous state and federal laws establish civil rights and prohibit certain acts. Cruz Law can help you by listening to what you have gone through in a free and confidential initial consultation and helping to determine how things may be made right for you. We can ensure you understand the steps required to pursue a discrimination complaint.
In many cases, civil rights laws protect people from abuse by the government. A complaint of a violation must generally be directed against the government or, more likely, a government agency or office. For example, freedom of speech only applies to government censorship. Your employer, a house of worship, a private club, or an individual can restrict what is said on their premises or in their name.
Civil rights laws typically apply to individuals or private entities when they treat people differently and deny them opportunities or benefits available to others. For example, a company hiring people cannot refuse to hire qualified applicants solely because of a protected characteristic (i.e., national origin, race, color, religion, etc.). The same principle applies to a landlord renting apartments, a business offering goods or services to the public, and others.
In most civil rights cases, you must file a complaint that will be considered by a state agency before a lawsuit can go forward. Consider another type of governmental abuse — police brutality (excessive force), harassment, false arrest, or imprisonment. Though such incidents may lead to criminal charges, a victim would first have to go through an investigatory process established and run by the local police department if they wanted to seek damages (compensation) for the harm they have suffered.
Even what would seem to be private matters, such as housing or employment discrimination, have governmental oversight agencies that a complaint must go through before other legal action can be pursued. At the federal level, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department investigates and enforces federal discrimination laws and must handle a complaint before a federal lawsuit.
As your civil rights attorneys, Cruz Law Firm can:
- Ensure you file a complaint as required by any local, state, or federal agency with jurisdiction over your case. This includes meeting what are often strict deadlines set by statutes of limitations.
- Gather evidence to substantiate your claim, including your statement, witness statements, documents, audio/video recordings, and correspondence (letters, email, texts).
- Assess what legal remedies are available in your case. Some claims are worth substantial amounts of money, particularly if you have been physically or psychologically harmed. Other cases are focused on injunctive relief — requiring the offending party to end practices that violate the law and/or to provide the services or accommodations you originally sought.
- Negotiate to resolve your case. A quicker resolution to your claim may be in your best interest. We are aggressive negotiators ready to secure favorable terms and/or compensation for you as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- Present a solid case on your behalf in state or federal agency hearings.
- File a federal civil rights lawsuit on your behalf and present a persuasive case to the judge and jury. A federal lawsuit would be the proper course of action if the state’s investigation and remedy were insufficient. In many cases, governmental agencies will decline to provide adequate relief for valid civil rights claims, leaving a federal lawsuit as the only path toward justice.
When to Consider Getting in Touch With a Civil Rights Lawyer
If you have experienced any of the following situations, your civil rights may have been violated, and you should consider hiring a civil rights lawyer:
- You were denied a job because of your race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
- People of another race, color, religion, sex, or national origin are treated more favorably at your workplace than people in other groups.
- You were subjected to a hostile work environment because of your race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
- You were passed over for a promotion because of your sexual orientation or gender identity.
- You were transferred because of your sexual orientation or gender identity.
- You were wrongfully terminated because of a protected characteristic.
- You were denied housing because of your race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
- You were subjected to sex discrimination at school or college.
- You were denied access to public accommodations because of a protected characteristic.
- You were falsely imprisoned, arrested, or prosecuted.
- Police used excessive force on you.
- Police conducted an illegal search and seizure on you.
- Your Constitutional rights were denied.
Damages That Can Be Recovered in a Civil Rights Case
The damages that may be awarded in a civil rights case vary widely. The remedy available may depend on complex legal questions specific to your claim, and, in some cases, may not include monetary compensation.
But, if a court finds that your civil rights have been violated, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your:
- Lost wages
- Medical costs
- Confinement (i.e., time held under arrest and/or in jail)
- Pain and suffering
- Harm to your reputation
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Attorney fees and costs
In cases of egregious wrongdoing, such as the use of excessive force by police or jailers or an institution’s systemic racial discrimination, a court may award punitive damages. To obtain punitive damages in a federal civil rights case, the plaintiff must prove that the wrongdoer acted with actual malice or reckless indifference to the victim’s civil rights.
Compensation awarded as punitive damages is meant to punish the wrongdoer and to deter others from committing similar acts.
Contact a Reputable Civil Rights Lawyer in Tallahassee, FL Today
It can be difficult to report that you and/or others have been treated inappropriately, but a civil rights attorney from Cruz Law Firm, P.A., can stand with you and fight to protect your rights. We can help you navigate the complex legal process and provide emotional support and guidance through these difficult times. You could be owed substantial compensation for civil rights violations you have suffered. The attorneys of Cruz Law can help you demand what’s right.
Contact Cruz Law for a confidential consultation with a Tallahassee civil rights lawyer about your options if you have been illegally mistreated by public officials, your employer, a landlord, a school, healthcare providers, or a public-facing business. We can help you understand what to expect as you pursue compensation for violations of your civil rights and demand better treatment for those who follow. Our law firm represents people like you in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and everywhere along the Florida Panhandle. Contact us today.