The history of civil rights is an important theme in our nation’s history. At the start of our union, while there was an ideal for certain civil rights, this ideal was only extended to a few. As time passed and people struggled, these first civil rights were extended to the disenfranchised. Further, additional civil rights were discovered and fought for. These struggles continue today.

What is a civil right?

A civil right, at its core, is a right granted by a government to its citizens. The rights listed in the Bill of Rights are among the most commonly known civil rights of American citizens, including the right to free speech, the right to vote, and many other important protections. Civil rights also protect individuals from governmental actions without reason and the ability to participate in politics without discrimination or repression.

However, questions about which rights are granted by the government and to whom they apply are at the heart of civil rights cases. Centuries of court precedent and history inform judges and lawyers on how to proceed in fighting for the rights of clients.

When a person’s civil rights are violated, individuals have the right to petition the courts and have their cases heard. We at The Cochran Firm have a long history of fighting for our client’s civil rights in a variety of areas.

Let’s explore some of the most common types of civil rights cases.

Employment Discrimination 

Our most fundamental fights in this country about civil rights involve discrimination against others based on who they are or what they choose to do in private. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Other laws have extended these protections to cover factors such as age, disability, or sexual orientation.

When employers prevent people from being hired, fire them, create a hostile work environment to try to drive them out, or otherwise use these individual qualities as a basis for discrimination, there are strong grounds for an employment discrimination lawsuit.

Housing Discrimination 

In a similar fashion, people in classes that have faced discrimination in the past have sometimes been denied housing or been driven out through various malicious actions. But access to housing is another right granted thanks to the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Additional extensions to this act have even covered discrimination against families with children.

However, it is important to recognize that both employers and landlords do have the legal right to discriminate in other ways. For instance, if you don’t have the transportation to get to a job or can’t prove you can pay the rent, you could be denied access even if you are a member of a protected class. This is why it is important to speak with a qualified civil rights lawyer first to see if you have a case.

Government Discrimination

One of the most pernicious forms of discrimination is discrimination by governments or the police. Most commonly, false imprisonments, arrests, and stops have been used to intimidate minorities, especially African Americans and Hispanics. The recent battles in Ferguson, Missouri and the actions of Joe Arpaio in Arizona, along with all of the recent police shootings, show that this is an area of great concern. When the government is free to discriminate against its own citizens, that opens the door for all citizens to discriminate against the affected group. That puts everyone at risk, which is why it’s crucial that if you feel you’ve been discriminated against by the government that you fight for your rights.

The Cochran Firm is ready to help you defend your civil rights. As soon as you feel there has been a violation, call us for a free consultation. Often there is a time limit to register a complaint with the government and, depending on the case, a complaint must be filed before a lawsuit can go forward. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Defend yourself by calling us today.