People often discuss civil rights as some concrete set of values and core principles that everyone must follow. While there may be many human rights that we all share, whether a violation of those rights is illegal or not depends on the laws in place. Each state and the U.S. as a whole have laws protecting people from certain types of violations of these rights, and violations of those rights usually allow victims to claim compensation or file complaints to get change to happen or to get compensation for the violation.
The term “civil rights” is very broad, and civil rights violations can include a wide range of things. People often experience civil rights violations because of discrimination, such as discrimination in employment, housing, banking, or education. Civil rights violations also come when government actors interfere with your rights, such as freedom of speech, the right to free exercise of religion, or the right to protest and assemble. One other major example of civil rights violations is in policing, with victims facing unreasonable searches and seizures or police brutality.
The civil rights violation lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin explain what some of these civil rights are and what violations of these rights look like.
Examples of Civil Rights in the U.S.
As mentioned, many rights are considered human rights – such as the right to life, liberty, and property. When the government steps in and writes laws to protect these rights, we call them civil rights. In many cases, civil rights are more expansive, creating additional protections and freedoms that we should all be able to count on living in a country like the United States. For instance, while we might all have a human right to seek housing and shelter, the U.S. government has rules in place to help protect those rights by preventing discrimination in housing. Other civil rights protect from other abuses or harms the government could cause, and most of the laws preventing these types of discrimination are enshrined in the Constitution.
Most anti-discrimination laws in the U.S. protect against discrimination in 5 main categories:
- National origin
Some laws have traditionally expanded these categories to related categories of discrimination. For instance, discrimination based on religion could include discrimination based on dress or expression related to that religion, and sex discrimination could include discrimination based on pregnancy, gender, gender presentation, sexual orientation, or other attributes. Other laws prevent discrimination based on other attributes, such as age or disability.
These anti-discrimination laws generally protect people in the areas of education, housing, employment, and public accommodations. The phrase “public accommodations” includes various facilities open to the public, such as stores, hotels, and restaurants. If you are discriminated against, you may be able to file a complaint with a state or federal agency, but the laws on point might also allow you to sue a business or individual for discrimination and the damages it causes.
Other Civil and Constitutional Rights
Some of the other most common civil rights are contained in the U.S. Constitution. State constitutions also have their own lists of rights and protections which might parallel the U.S. Constitution or create broader protections. Some of the most common constitutionally protected civil rights include the following:
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of the press
- Freedom of assembly
- Freedom of protest
- Right against unreasonable search and seizure
- Right to due process
- Right to an attorney
- Right to equal protection under the law
There are other rights enshrined in state and federal law, but these are the ones most commonly used in civil rights complaints. Some civil rights complaints are often tied to criminal law issues, such as problems with your right to remain free of unreasonable search and seizure, the right against double jeopardy, or rights dealing with Miranda rights issues like the right to an attorney or the right to remain silent. Other civil rights violations could be caused by police abuse or mistreatment.
Rights concerning free speech and expression are some of the most hotly contested issues. These cases are often important in issues related to expression in schools, as students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” according to the Supreme Court.
Civil Rights Violations for Sex and Gender Discrimination
At The Law Office of Andrew Shubin, one of the focuses of our practice is protecting victims of sex and gender discrimination at work and in education. Many people do not understand that issues of sex and gender discrimination certainly occur with regard to hiring and firing or mistreatment of students based on their sex, but these civil rights violations can also include issues related to sexual assault and sexual abuse by institutions.
Sex and Gender Discrimination at Work
If you face a negative employment outcome because of your sex or gender, you could be entitled to compensation for the violation of your civil rights. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects against sex discrimination in employment, which means that you cannot face negative outcomes at work because of your sex.
Most people think of these negative outcomes as either firing or failure to hire, but negative employment outcomes can also include the following:
- Being passed over for a promotion
- Being passed over for a raise
- Being paid less than other coworkers
- Not being given responsibilities
- Being assigned extra work or tasks
- Transfers or changes in job duties
If any of these negative employment outcomes can be linked to your sex or gender, they could constitute a violation of your civil rights. Two U.S. Supreme Court cases – Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins (1989) and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. EEOC (2020) – have established that “sex discrimination” in employment includes more than just discrimination based on status as male or female. According to the Court, discrimination based on sex-based stereotypes (e.g., a female employee wearing masculine clothing), discrimination based on gender or transgender status, and discrimination based on sexual orientation are all included under the umbrella of “sex discrimination.”
Sex and Gender Discrimination in Education
Title IX of the Civil Rights Act deals with sex discrimination in education and prevents any institution that receives federal funding from discriminating against students based on their sex. In most cases, this includes both colleges and high schools, both private and public. Even parochial schools are included under these requirements in most cases.
Title IX protects students both in education itself – i.e., in access to certain courses, admissions, scholarships, and more – as well as in school sports – i.e., in the opportunity to play, in funding for sports programs, and in sports-based scholarship opportunities. There are specific requirements that deal with when schools must provide opportunities and what kinds of proportions need to be met – and some of these are modified by student interest.
Currently, one big area of contention with regard to sex and gender discrimination in schools is how these laws affect transgender and non-binary students. While the Harris Funeral Homes case suggests that the Supreme Court views trans discrimination as sex discrimination, and the Biden and Obama administrations both included gender and transgender discrimination as violations of Title IX, many states have created laws barring trans students from using certain bathrooms or playing on certain sports teams. Our attorneys are prepared to handle cases dealing with these issues as civil rights violations.
Sexual Assault as Civil Rights Violations
In education and at work, Title VII and Title IX block sex discrimination. Sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment are inherently based on the victim’s gender or sex, and these issues can actually be full-blown civil rights violations. Our attorneys work to hold schools and employers responsible for sexual assault and sexual harassment at the institutional level. This means that, even if a single individual or group of individuals was responsible, our attorneys will fight to seek compensation from the institution that allowed the abuse to happen in the first place.
Suing for Police Brutality and Civil Rights Violations
One area of “civil rights violations” that people tend to think of deals with issues of police brutality. This is another area of contention in this country, but our attorneys nonetheless seek to protect the rights of individuals and help them get compensation and justice when police overstep their authority and when government actors violate their civil rights.
Police are permitted to use force to subdue or contain people in situations where everyday people might not be allowed to. With this comes strict “use of force” doctrines and required training. However, many police officers are accused of going beyond use of force authorizations and using too much force to affect an arrest or calm down an aggressive individual. When police-involved shootings or use of tasers and pepper spray lead to injury and harm, you may be able to hire a civil rights attorney to look into whether excessive force was used and potentially file a lawsuit for compensation against the officer and police department if your rights were violated.
Illegal Search and Seizure
Police are restricted in their ability to perform searches and their ability to arrest people or take property as evidence. These restrictions come under the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says that police need a warrant and probable cause to perform a search, make an arrest, or take property. There are some exceptions to these rules, such as the ability for police to skip the warrant requirement under certain circumstances (e.g., in the interest of safety, when the property being searched/seized is mobile, or when evidence is at risk of being destroyed). Police also do not need probable cause to perform a stop, such as a vehicle stop – that needs only “reasonable suspicion.”
When police violate these rights, the typical solution is to block them from being able to use any evidence they seized through these rights violations. This is known as “suppression,” and it allows illegal evidence to be blocked in court, potentially helping a defendant to beat the charges.
In some cases, courts have upheld additional damages for the rights violations, but this is not very common. Talk to a lawyer about seeking independent damages through a civil rights violation if your right to privacy and your 4th Amendment rights were violated.
Violation of Miranda Rights and Right to an Attorney
Similar to how police are restricted in searches and seizures by the 4th Amendment, they are restricted by what they can ask and when they can talk to you while you are in custody by the rules in the 5th and 6th Amendments.
The 5th Amendment guarantees that you have the right to remain silent instead of incriminating yourself. The 6th Amendment guarantees you the right to an attorney – including the right to have an attorney present during a custodial interrogation. Police have to actually tell you about these rights and read you your rights, as decided in Miranda v. Arizona (1966) – but only if you are in custody and being asked questions.
Like illegal search and seizure, the remedy for a violation of these rights is usually suppression. However, if police tried to threaten your safety or physically beat a confession out of you, that is an extreme violation of your rights and might lead to independent compensation.
What Qualifies as a Civil Rights Violation?
Civil rights are protected by the government. In many cases, the laws contained in the Constitution and other laws protect the people from abuse by the government as well. These rights, like the right to freedom of speech, are only enforceable against the government. That means that it is not a violation of your civil rights for another private individual to silence your speech in the workplace, at church, or in a private club. Instead, there needs to be state action that harms your rights for these civil rights to be violated.
Other protections are enforced against other private individuals. Especially with regard to anti-discrimination laws, the statutes work broadly to protect people from violations by other people, such as their bosses, their landlords, store owners, and other individuals. These issues reach the level of a violation if the conduct treats people differently and denies them benefits – or causes additional detriments – because of one of the protected attributes or features listed in the law.
Examples of Civil Rights Violations
Sometimes the best way to understand a violation is to see it in action. The following are all examples of civil rights violations:
- Sex and gender discrimination in education
- Housing discrimination based on race or national origin
- Workplace sexual harassment
- Denial of notice or an opportunity to be heard before having property taken away
These are just a few of the types of civil rights violation cases we handle. Call our law offices if you think you’ve been discriminated against or had your civil or constitutional rights violated.
Call Our Civil and Constitutional Rights Attorneys
If you or a loved one was subject to discrimination, harassment, or institutional sexual abuse, or if you had your right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or due process rights violated, contact The Law Office of Andrew Shubin today. Our civil rights violation attorney is available to set up a free legal consultation today. Call (814) 826-3586 to learn more.
The most common complaint involves allegations of color of law violations. Another common complaint involves racial violence, such as physical assaults, homicides, verbal or written threats, or desecration of property.What is the most common civil rights violation? ›
The most common complaint involves allegations of color of law violations. Another common complaint involves racial violence, such as physical assaults, homicides, verbal or written threats, or desecration of property.What is an example of civil rights being violated? ›
Violations of these rights include excessive force by police, being passed over for a promotion because of a personal identity, denying housing to an individual because of personal identity, or efforts to impede your right to peacefully protest.What is a violation of a person's civil rights? ›
WHAT IS A CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION? A civil rights violation refers to an offense that occurs as a result of the use of force or the threat of force by the offender against a victim. For instance an assault committed because of the victim's race or sexual orientation.What are 5 specific examples of human rights violations? ›
It prohibits arbitrary deprivation of life; torture, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment; slavery and forced labour; arbitrary arrest or detention; arbitrary interference with privacy; war propaganda; discrimination; and advocacy of racial or religious hatred.What are the 3 basic civil rights? ›
Our country's Constitution and federal laws contain critical protections that form the foundation of our inclusive society – the right to be free from discrimination, the freedom to worship as we choose, the right to vote for our elected representatives, the protections of due process, the right to privacy.What are the top 5 common human rights violations? ›
Denying services and information about health (the right to health) Discriminating at work based on traits like race, gender, and sexual orientation (The right to work) Failing to provide maternity leave (protection of and assistance to the family) Not paying a sufficient minimum wage (rights at work)What rights can be violated? ›
- Freedom of speech. ...
- Freedom of religion.
- Police misconduct.
- Censorship in public schools or libraries.
- Fairness in school or prison discipline.
- Privacy and other protections from government intrusion.
- Inhumane jail or prison conditions.
The following are all examples of civil rights violations: Sex and gender discrimination in education. Housing discrimination based on race or national origin. Workplace sexual harassment.What are 10 civil rights? ›
Examples of civil rights include the right to vote, the right to a fair trial, the right to government services, the right to a public education, the right to gainful employment, the right to housing, the right to use public facilities, freedom of religion.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Provisions of this civil rights act forbade discrimination on the basis of sex, as well as, race in hiring, promoting, and firing.What are some examples of violations? ›
- Illegal disposal of hazardous waste.
- Export of hazardous waste without the permission of the receiving country.
- Illegal discharge of pollutants to a water of the United States.
- The removal and disposal of regulated asbestos containing materials in a manner inconsistent with the law and regulations.
This statute makes it a crime for any person acting under color of law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom to willfully deprive or cause to be deprived from any person those rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution and laws of the U.S.What are your 5 basic rights? ›
The five freedoms it protects: speech, religion, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government. Together, these five guaranteed freedoms make the people of the United States of America the freest in the world.What are the 5 common rights? ›
They range from the most fundamental - the right to life - to those that make life worth living, such as the rights to food, education, work, health, and liberty.How many human rights violations are there? ›
For reference, authorities classified about 11,500 human rights violations in 2019 as human trafficking and detained 4,384 traffickers.What are the 11 civil rights? ›
Broadly speaking, it prohibited discrimination and segregation on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex in voting, workplaces, places of education, housing, and public accommodations. It has been followed up by additional legislation to better define and enforce its 11 sections, or titles.What are the 7 civil liberties? ›
- Freedom of religion.
- Freedom of expression.
- Right to keep and bear arms.
- Sexual freedom.
- Equal protection.
- Right to vote.
- Right to parent one's children.
- Right to privacy.
American civil rights include freedom of speech and assembly, equality in public places, the right to vote, the right to privacy, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right against involuntary servitude.What is the most violated right? ›
Our right to privacy and our right to access information may be the most commonly violated human rights in western democracies, and this is because governments have been all too happy to defer to economic interests in cases where human rights violations are not considered overt or grave enough to force action.
Prohibited grounds of discrimination include all internationally recognized grounds such as race, sex, religion, age, disability, language, political opinion, national or ethnic origin, descent, social origin, property or “other status” (including nationality, marital/family status, sexual orientation, health status, ...What violates your constitutional rights? ›
Constitutional rights violations can take a variety of forms, ranging from retaliating against you for expressing your First Amendment right to free speech, to arresting you without possessing probable cause to believe you have committed a crime, or even arbitrarily depriving you of your Fourteenth Amendment right to ...What rights are not protected by law? ›
The Supreme Court has found that unenumerated rights include such important rights as the right to travel, the right to vote, and the right to keep personal matters private.Can you sue for violation of 14th Amendment rights? ›
14th Amendment lawsuits may be filed as class action lawsuits. These types of lawsuits may lead to very significant damages awards that are issued to members of the class named in the lawsuit. One example of this is when the constitutional rights of a group in a community have been violated.What happens if a person's rights are violated? ›
United States law allows an individual who believes that his or her constitutional rights have been violated to bring a civil action against the government to recover the damages sustained as a result of that violation.When has the government violated civil liberties? ›
The sedition acts, the Palmer Raids, and the internment of Japanese Americans are just three of the most infamous violations of civil liberties during times of crises, in which the First Amendment and the rights of immigrants and minorities were clearly violated.What is the 14th Amendment? ›
Passed by the Senate on June 8, 1866, and ratified two years later, on July 9, 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship to all persons "born or naturalized in the United States," including formerly enslaved people, and provided all citizens with “equal protection under the laws,” extending the provisions of ...What is the most important civil right? ›
Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law was intended to end discrimination based on race, color, religion, or national origin and has often been called the most important U.S. law on civil rights since Reconstruction (1865–77).What's the most important civil right? ›
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 The two most significant pieces of civil rights legislation since Reconstruction were passed within two years of each other. Between the two, these Acts outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.What are the grounds for discrimination? ›
Generally, discrimination occurs where one person is treated less favourably than another person in a comparable situation, because they differ under any of the following grounds: Age. Civil Status. Disability (including physical, intellectual, learning, cognitive, emotional or medical conditions)
No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.What are the 4 types of violation? ›
In this blog post, we will discuss the four most common types of violations: safety, sexual harassment, wage and hour, and whistleblower.What are the three main types of violations? ›
Driving-related violations are typically classified as one of three types: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.What is an example of an integrity violation? ›
Cheating: Using or attempting to use unauthorized assistance, information or study aids in any academic exercise. Copying answers from or looking at another student's exam. Accessing or possessing any material not expressly permitted during an exam, such as crib sheets, notes, books.What is deprivation of rights? ›
Deprivation of rights under color of law is a federal criminal charge that is sometimes used against the police and other law enforcement officers when they allegedly use their power to violate another person's rights under the United States Constitution.How are civil rights protected? ›
Civil rights are personal rights guaranteed and protected by the U.S. Constitution and federal laws enacted by Congress, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Civil rights include protection from unlawful discrimination.Can you sue an individual for violating your constitutional rights? ›
Section 1983 (42 U.S.C. Section 1983) is a federal law that allows citizens to sue in certain situations for violations of rights conferred by the U.S. Constitution or federal laws.What are my constitutional rights? ›
The Bill of Rights
First Amendment: Freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the press, the right to assemble, the right to petition government. Second Amendment: The right to form a militia and to keep and bear arms. Third Amendment: The right not to have soldiers in one's home.
|1st||1791||Rights to Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, Petition|
|2nd||1791||Right to Bear Arms|
|3rd||1791||Quartering of Soldiers|
|4th||1791||Search and Seizure|
Eighth Amendment Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The Bill of Rights is the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. It spells out Americans' rights in relation to their government. It guarantees civil rights and liberties to the individual—like freedom of speech, press, and religion.What is the 9th Amendment? ›
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.How does the Constitution limit individual rights? ›
The protections of the Bill of Rights are limited in any case where using the right causes harm to another person. For example, the protections given in the First Amendment concerning freedom of expression are limited in cases where free expression violates moral values or spreads hatred or violence.How do you report human rights violations? ›
If you believe your civil rights, or someone else's, have been violated, submit a report using our online form. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, please call 911 or local police. If you are reporting misconduct by law enforcement or believe you have experienced a hate crime, please contact the FBI.What are 20 human rights? ›
|Article 1||Right to Equality|
|Article 2||Freedom from Discrimination|
|Article 3||Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security|
|Article 4||Freedom from Slavery|
|Article 5||Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment|
Article 10 Freedom of expression
1Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
The three most common civil cases are tort claims, contract breaches and landlord/tenant issues.What are the biggest civil rights cases? ›
This is a pairing of Plessy v. Ferguson in the 1896 case and Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, probably the most famous of all civil rights cases, the Brown case. The 1896 Plessy case was a case in which the Supreme Court reviewed a state law requiring racial segregation.What is the most important civil rights case? ›
Brown v. Board of Education is widely regarded as one of the most significant legal decisions in all civil rights history. It paved the way for the desegregation of public schools and other institutions, as well as a greater understanding of the value of full and equal enjoyment for all Americans.What are the most common types of civil lawsuits? ›
General civil cases, usually involving suing someone for money in disputes over things like contracts, damage to property, or someone getting hurt. Family law cases such as divorce, child support, child custody, and adoptions.
- Contract Disputes. Contract disputes occur when one or more parties who signed a contract cannot or will not fulfill their obligations. ...
- Property Disputes. ...
- Torts. ...
- Class Action Cases. ...
- Complaints Against the City.
In civil cases, the plaintiff has the burden of proving their case by a preponderance of the evidence, which means the plaintiff merely needs to show that the fact in dispute is more likely than not.What disputes are treated as civil cases? ›
- money and debts.
- housing – such as eviction, foreclosure or to fix bad living conditions.
- an injury – such as from a car accident, medical malpractice or environmental harm.
- marriage and children – such as divorce, child custody, child support, or guardianship.
- Racial Justice.
- Poverty and Inequality.
- Criminal Legal System.
- Children in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems.
- Drug Policy.
- Rights of Non-Citizens.
- Health and Human Rights.
- Voting Rights.
Under these laws, all persons in the United States have a right to receive health care and human services in a nondiscriminatory manner. For example, you cannot be denied services or benefits simply because of your race, color, national origin, or disability.What are civil rights simple? ›
Overview. A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of the individual's membership in a particular group or class.What is the most important rights granted to US citizens? ›
The First Amendment is widely considered to be the most important part of the Bill of Rights. It protects the fundamental rights of conscience—the freedom to believe and express different ideas—in a variety of ways.What cases made up the Civil Rights Cases? ›
- Adderley v. Florida (1966) ...
- Bates v. Little Rock (1960) ...
- Bond v. Floyd (1966) ...
- Brown v. Louisiana (1966) ...
- Cox v. Louisiana (1965) ...
- Edwards v. South Carolina (1963) ...
- Garner v. Louisiana (1961) ...
- Gibson v.
Despite Kennedy's assassination in November of 1963, his proposal culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. President Lyndon Johnson signed it into law just a few hours after it was passed by Congress on July 2, 1964. The act outlawed segregation in businesses such as theaters, restaurants, and hotels.What is the most common thing to get sued for? ›
Property disagreements among neighbors are one of the most common lawsuits. If something on your neighbor's property endangers you and your family, there might be a lawsuit at hand.
Cases involving claims for such things as personal injury, battery, negligence, defamation, medical malpractice, fraud, and many others, are all examples.What are the 4 types of cases? ›
- Criminal Cases. Criminal cases involve enforcing public codes of behavior, which are codified in the laws of the state. ...
- Civil Cases. Civil cases involve conflicts between people or institutions such as businesses, typically over money. ...
- Family Cases.