San Rafael Civil Rights Lawyer
As residents of this country, we are granted certain civil rights. These rights protect us from being discriminated against at work, when applying for housing, when in public, or in our dealings with schools and law enforcement. Unfortunately, despite the existence of these protections, many individuals still face persecution for a protected characteristic, such as their race or sex. Those whose civil rights have been abused in this way can obtain justice by filing a claim against the other party, so if you were harassed at work, denied housing, or targeted by the police because of your race, ethnicity, religion, or sex, it is critical to speak with an experienced San Rafael civil rights lawyer who can offer you guidance and support throughout the claim filing process.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers with more than 15 employees from discriminating against workers because of their race, sex, religion, national origin, or color. This means that employers are barred from treating applicants or employees unfavorably because of their race or another protected characteristic. This includes a prohibition against harassment, which involves behaviors that result in the creation of a hostile work environment or an adverse employment decision, such as demotion. The use of racial slurs or the display of offensive symbols in the workplace represent some of the most commonly asserted race-based claims of discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, religion, or color can also take a number of other forms, including:
- Offering a lower wage;
- Denying an applicant a job;
- Terminating employment; and
- Denying the opportunity for a pay raise or career advancement.
More subversive or less obvious forms of discrimination are also unlawful. For instance, it is illegal for an employer to create a job policy if it is not job-related or necessary to the business’s successful operation and it has a negative impact on the employability of employees of a certain race. This prohibition exists even when the employment policy supposedly applies to all applicants or employees.
Discrimination based on sex is also strictly prohibited under both state and federal law and includes treating an employee or applicant unfairly because of his or her gender identity, sexual orientation, or transgender status. Sex discrimination in the workplace often takes the form of sexual harassment, which could involve behaviors ranging from making unwelcome sexual advances or requesting sexual favors to making offensive comments or otherwise verbally or physically harassing the employee. Although not protected under Title VII, a separate federal law, known as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), also prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on childbirth or pregnancy, which means that employers cannot take certain employment-related actions because of an employee or applicant’s pregnancy, such as refusing to hire someone because she has a pregnancy-related medical condition even though she is capable of fulfilling the necessary job duties, requiring a pregnant employee to take leave until her child is born, or refusing to hold a job open for a pregnancy-related absence if other positions are reserved for the same amount of time for those on disability leave. Furthermore, employers are required to make certain changes to accommodate pregnant employees, which includes assigning lighter duties, modifying some of the employee’s tasks, or allowing the employee to take leave without pay. The requirement to make reasonable accommodations also applies to those with certain religious practices or disabilities.
Discrimination in Housing
Title VII also prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of housing based on sex, race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, pregnancy, and disability. This applies to landlords and real estate companies, as well as banks, lending institutions, homeowners insurance companies, and municipalities if their discriminatory practices make housing unavailable to certain people because of their race or another protected characteristic. For example, courts have penalized defendants for taking the following discriminatory actions against residents or applicants:
- Giving false information about availability of housing;
- Claiming that zoning ordinances prohibit the use of private homes as places of worship;
- Imposing stricter underwriting standards on home loans for borrowers of a certain race;
- Denying housing or imposing special requirements or conditions on tenants who have children; and
- Refusing to accommodate for a person’s disability.
Protections for those with disabilities also extend to the workplace, as well as public places, such as restaurants, hotels, mass transit stations, and apartment complexes. Under these laws, those with disabilities must have access to public accommodations, which requires affected establishments to equip their structures with wheelchair ramps and widened doorways.
Law enforcement officers are permitted to use the level of force necessary to make an arrest or defend themselves. However, when an officer exceeds a reasonable level of force, he or she violates the arrestee’s Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. In these cases, the injured party may be able to collect compensation by filing an excessive force claim against the officer. Unfortunately, filing this type of claim is extremely complicated. For instance, those whose rights have been violated must file a notice of claim with the police agency within six months of the incident. At this point, the claimant has another six months to file an actual lawsuit in court. To ensure that your own claim is not denied due to a failure to comply with these or other procedural rules, please contact a member of our civil rights legal team today.
Contact an Experienced and Compassionate San Rafael Civil Rights Attorney
Those who have been discriminated against at work have the option of filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will then investigate the claim before choosing to resolve the case, file a claim in court, or allow the claimant to file a lawsuit. There are, however, specific deadlines and steps with which applicants must comply before they can file suit against the discriminatory party, so if your civil rights were violated, please contact the Dolan Law Firm at 415-942-6915 to speak with an experienced San Rafael civil rights lawyer about collecting back pay and compensation for lost benefits, out-of-pocket losses, and pain and suffering.