Do you have questions about having a civil rights claim? Check out these 3 common civil rights questions, then call Smith & Green Attorneys at Law today.
1. Do I have a civil rights claim?
One of the first questions we get after sitting and talking with the dozens and dozens of people that call our law office regarding civil rights issues is always, “Do I have a case?”
There is no one answer for that. There is no single solitary answer to determine if someone has a case or not. Every case will turn on the facts, turn on the evidence, and turn on the prevailing law.
If you want to know if you have a case or whatnot, it’s important that you sit down and talk to a competent lawyer that will address the facts of your case with you. For example, here at our office, we offer, in some instances, free consultations. Sometimes we’ll sit you with an intake person and let them get all the information, see where it is the case will go. Oftentimes, we’ll let you talk directly with a lawyer to go over the facts of your case and see what actually is there. We have a very robust process here in our office to deal with the high number of civil rights potential clients that we have to determine. We have that candid conversation with you about what our thoughts are about the case. Again, sometimes those consultations are free, depending on what it is, but in no case would we charge you a million dollars to sit and talk with somebody about the facts of your case.
Do you have a case? We don’t know. It depends on the facts of your case. There’s a whole lot of civil rights laws out there that have to be looked at. Again, your case is going to be determined by the facts and the evidence that you have to support it and the law that controls that area. Call our office, talk to one of our lawyers, one of our staff persons. We’ll be more than happy to talk with you about the facts of your case.
2. What is the time limit for filing a civil rights complaint?
Civil rights claims arise predominantly in two areas, but there are other areas. Generally, a lot of civil rights claims are protected by the federal constitution and they’re federal civil rights based on the United States code. Regardless of whether you’re in Arizona or in Eastern Kentucky, some of these time frames to file things are the same because they arise out of federal law.
Each state has its own constitution. Particularly here in Arizona, we have our own constitution that gives rights to folks, as well. There could be a number of deadlines and when to file and where to file that is associated with civil rights claims. Again, this is not something you should guess on your own. You’re going to need a lawyer. You’re going to need a competent lawyer that knows where the claims are, how they need to be stated, what to file. We’ve had to jump in the middle of several civil rights cases that were great cases, should have been pursued to the max, but 40, 50, 60 days into the case, after the person tried to do it on their own, trying to avoid paying a lawyer, they lost time, they lost evidence, they lost procedural things, some claims got knocked out, and the strength of the case is diminished. Sometimes, they say too much in the complaint, they show their hands, they argue the case, and they try to prove the whole case in filing the complaint. You’ve got to be careful about that and understand that there are time frames to all of these issues.
For example, with a civil rights claim related to employment – say, you feel like you’ve been sexually harassed at work – you’ve got 300 days to file that with the EEOC. If you don’t file within that 300 days – and in some instances 180 days – with the EEOC, you’re statutorily barred; you’re time-barred. It’s no longer effective. You can’t flirt with that. No judge is going to overturn that, so you have to be careful. As soon as you think something strange has happened that has violated your civil rights, call a lawyer immediately.
We get calls from all across the country regarding civil rights cases, be it employment or other things. Call us. We’d be more than happy to talk with you about it and look at the time frames and what needs to be filed and with who it needs to be filed. It’s something that you cannot spin your wheels on because the clock is ticking.
3. How do I file a civil rights complaint?
There are different ways that a person can complain about their civil rights being violated. For example, if it’s an employment-related thing, Title 7, ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act or something, those complaints would be filed with the EEOC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If it’s a labor violation, those are filed with the Department of Labor or the National Labor Relations Board handles certain things as it relates to employment cases. If it’s some type of civil rights action involving the police and they’ve done something that they shouldn’t do, you want to call a lawyer immediately on those things because those are lawsuits that are going to need to be filed. Most times a lawyer will add a demand letter demanding evidence or preservation of evidence, letters saying don’t mess with this evidence or what we call a FOIA request, Freedom of Information Act request, requesting body camera footage and reports or whatnot about what has happened in the case, and then they proceed from there whether to file the matter in court.