Have you or a loved one been involved in a civil rights case? Read these 4 civil rights tips for guidance, then call our Phoenix attorneys.
1. 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. Civil Rights Complaint Timeline
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. Filing 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.
Sometimes if there are underlying state claims, you have to file a notice of claim. If you don’t file that notice of claim within a certain amount of time, you lose the rights to file and the window is very small. You want to make sure that you call a lawyer immediately and talk to them about it because they’ll know exactly what to do. They’ll know the time frames when things need to be filed and which agency that these complaints need to be filed with or whether it needs to be a direct lawsuit filed in court. You can call our office. We do quite a bit of civil rights litigation here, from all different perspectives, and we’ll be more than happy to talk to you about your civil rights claim.
4. Violation of Civil Rights
Civil rights has been an area of law, particularly in today’s society, that has really been pushed to the forefront of litigation. We get a number of calls here in our office about civil rights that have been violated. They have a vast spectrum of violations— everything from workplace discrimination and harassment to being abused by a police officer. That’s a civil rights matter. Folks in prison institutions not being cared for properly, not being given adequate medical care or being harassed by prison guards – all of those are civil rights issues.
There’s often the question of, “Well, what can I do?” There are a number of things that have to be done in a civil rights case and a number of things that must be looked at in a civil rights case. The number of civil rights violations that are possible are very, very, very vast. You have to understand this principle, that civil rights are designed to protect you from government actors – police officers, counties, police departments, courts, prisons, workers. They’re designed to protect certain things and some civil entities, like employers and the rights that you’re protected from civilly as is relates to them. What do you do?
One that’s a little more obvious is, if I’m on the side of the road and I feel like a police officer has violated my rights – we see this a lot, as it’s been high in our news coverage and what not – the worst thing you can do is sit there and argue and go back and forth with the police officer. Don’t do it. That’s what lawsuits are for. Just collect your evidence, collect your information, and contact a competent lawyer. Let a lawyer deal with it. You do have certain rights, and the police are not above the law. The best thing we can tell folks to do is comply with the police officer’s lawful orders. If they’re giving you an unlawful order, and it’s going to place your life in danger, you have an obligation to get home safe to your family, your friends and your loved ones, so don’t challenge the police officer’s unlawful orders. Document them, and then file a lawsuit against them.
There are certain steps that need to be taken to file a lawsuit, depending on whether it’s municipality or a state agency or a federal agency. There’s a lot of law that has to be considered, so as soon as it happens, what you must do is immediately – don’t wait a week or two; don’t wait two or three days – contact a lawyer immediately. The clock immediately starts ticking, concerning the statute of limitations and how you must file a suit and what things must be done prior to even filing a lawsuit in court. You want to contact a competent attorney very quickly. Whether it’s in the workplace, whether it’s by a police officer, a prison, a state hospital – it doesn’t matter – call a competent lawyer immediately and let them start working through the facts of your case to determine what rights have been violated and what needs to be done.
Have you or a loved one been involved in a civil rights case and have questions about these 4 civil rights tips? Contact experienced Phoenix Civil Rights Attorneys at Smith & Green today for a legal consultation.
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