If you think you are the victim of civil rights violations, you need to document what is happening to you. This includes keeping a detailed diary of events, noting down the identities of potential witnesses, and carefully e-mailing or doing memorandum to memorialize what has happened to you. Also, if you suspect civil rights violations, you should contact a lawyer sooner than later. Call your local bar association and get numbers for those who practice in this area.
Timely File All Administrative Claims
The most important step in pursuing many civil rights claims is making sure that you have complied with the administrative filing requirements for many workplace discrimination claims. This means that you have to file any claims with the state or federal government with a certain time frame. This can be 300 days, a year, or shorter (six months), depending on who you are suing and why you are suing. You must also know that the time to file may start running from the date of an initial incident of discrimination -- not when you were fired, or that last bad thing that was done to you.
Also, if you are suing a governmental entity because of a state violation of First Amendment, Due Process, or religious liberty rights, you may need to file a claim against the governmental entity within six months.
A failure to timely file a claim can be fatal to your case.
There is an Array of Civil Rights Laws Available to You
One of the more encouraging aspects of civil rights litigation is that there are many laws and regulations to protect you. Examples are: 1.) State constitutional claims; 2.) Federal constitutional claims; 3.) Unruh Civil Rights Act (California); 4.) Title VII Anti-Discrimination laws; 5.) EEOC regulations; 6.) FEHA claims; 7.) Common law claims; 8.) Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA); 8.) Other statutory remedies.
Free Help is Readily Available
There are a number of civil rights organizations that can assist you in your claims. Traditionally, the ACLU, Human Rights Campaign, and others have carried the torch on these issues. However, because of political and moral values differences, a number of other groups have arisen in the last two decades. These advocacy groups include, the Alliance Defense Fund, Pacific Justice Institute, and Faith & Freedom Advocates. The bottom line is that there are various civil rights groups, of all different 'political' persuasions, who can help defend and pursue your constitutional rights.
What You are Doing is Important to All of Us
Civil rights lay at the core of what it means to be an American. If you pursue your case for the right reasons, you leave a legacy of protecting others. Pursuing a civil rights claim often means that fundamental changes in employer or government policy. Be encouraged in your decision to stand up for what is right. Finally, it is important to know that there are "two sides" to most cases involving the definition of rights. It is important to respect each others position and the passion that each side feels as we participate in the evolution of civil rights law. All too often, one side or the other is focused on accusing the other of hate, intolerance, or ignorance. The reality is that we all have a right to defend and pursue what is important to us. There will be winners and losers. However, the judicial process is just as important as our personal interests in these cases.
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