Experienced Columbus Civil Rights Attorneys
Americans are guaranteed certain civil rights by the Constitution, federal law, and state law. Some of these rights include the right to be free from police misconduct and discrimination in educational settings, employment, and housing. Other types of civil rights include freedom of speech, the right to vote, and the right to equality in public places.
When employers, landlords, or government employees discriminate against applicants or employees based on age, disability, sex, race, color, national origin, or religion, they can be held liable for violating these important civil rights. If your civil rights were violated, you should contact an experienced civil rights attorney who can advise you.
Although police officers have broad powers to carry out their duties, they are prohibited from violating the civil rights of others. For example, police officers can be held liable for their actions if they exceed the scope of their authority. Law enforcement officers are permitted to use a reasonable degree of force during arrests. They are not, however, permitted to use excessive force, which would constitute a violation of the right to be free from unreasonable seizure. Once a police officer uses excessive force, he or she loses the protection of immunity. Victims can then hold a police officer accountable for violating his or her civil rights. In some cases, this means that injured parties can collect compensation for their losses. Other common claims against police officers that involve civil rights violations include false arrest and malicious prosecution.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents the Government from impeding a citizen’s right to free speech. Although the government can at times impose reasonable limitations as to the time, place, and manner of speech, such restrictions must be narrowly tailored, content neutral, and leave open ample alternative means of expression.
Generally, the First Amendment applies only to the government, and not private individuals such as employers.
A federal law, known as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against someone based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in any aspect of employment, including:
- Hiring and firing;
- Compensation or assignment;
- Transfer or promotion;
- Training programs;
- Retirement plans.
Another federal law, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on age. Under this law, employers cannot:
- Refuse to hire an individual because of that person’s age;
- Deny benefits to older employees; or
- Include age preferences or limitations in employment advertisements.
These laws help protect citizens from having their right to be treated equally under the law regardless of race, age, or religion violated by government and non-government employers.
The Fair Housing Act is another federal law that helps protect people from having their civil rights violated by making it unlawful for landlords or sellers to:
- Refuse to sell or rent a dwelling to anyone because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin;
- Include a preference or limitation in an advertisement based on race or another protected category;
- Offer different sale or rental terms because of a person’s race, religion, sex, or another protected characteristic; and
- Retaliate against a person or organization that aids or encourages the exercise of fair housing rights.
Landlords or real estate agents who fail to comply with these laws can be held liable for their actions.
Call to Speak to an Attorney About Your Civil Rights
If you live in Ohio and had believe that your civil rights have been violated, please call us to speak to an attorney about your legal options.