Civil rights are the rights of everyone to be treated equally when it comes to the application of the laws. Civil rights laws seek to enforce equal treatment by giving protected status to certain characteristics that can and have been used to apply laws unfairly with respect to particular peoples.
When civil rights violations occur to persons who have protected status under the law, they can make claims against the violators and be compensated for their damages.
The Los Angeles civil rights attorneys at Mancini & Associates are passionate about enforcing the civil rights of our clients. We don’t believe anyone should have to tolerate discrimination and we seek justice for those injured by unfair treatment.
California civil rights laws parallel federal civil rights laws but generally extend the protections to more people who might receive unequal treatment.
California Civil Code section 51 is known as the Unruh Civil Rights Act and states in part that:
All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.
Business establishments include housing and public accommodations as well as government and public entities. And the California Supreme Court has said that the protections of the Unruh Act are not limited exclusively to the characteristics listed and can be extended to other similarly situated persons.
The California Attorney General’s Office has identified some areas where civil rights violations can occur in the state. The following is a non-exclusive list of situations that can give rise to civil rights issues.
If someone believes they have had their civil rights violated they may have several options for resolving a claim for damages depending on the violation and how it occurred. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is the agency charged with enforcing California’s civil rights laws.
If the civil rights violation occurred in an employment context, the process must start with the DFEH – unless the criteria for filing a federal claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is also met in which case filing with either agency is acceptable.
The DFEH conducts an investigation and determines whether the laws it enforces have been broken. The agency will try to facilitate the resolution of the claim and may decide to file a lawsuit. A claimant can bypass the DFEH investigation and just file a lawsuit by obtaining a right to sue notice.
Employees have three years from the time of the violation to file a charge of discrimination with the DFEH. But there is only one year to bring a lawsuit after obtaining a right to sue. Other types of civil rights violations may have different time periods for people to make claims and it’s best to consult a civil rights attorney as soon as possible to make sure your rights are protected.
Civil rights claims can be resolved through informal negotiations, by making a claim to a state or federal agency or by bringing a private lawsuit in civil court. Choosing the best alternative often depends on the circumstances of the particular civil rights violation. A Los Angeles civil rights lawyer can advise you of the best course of action and help you obtain the recovery you are entitled to.
At Mancini & Associates, we acknowledge that it takes a lot of courage for people to speak up when their civil rights have been violated. We want to help stop discriminatory behavior and protect others from unfair abuses. Schedule a free consultation on our website or call us at 818-783-5757.