San Bernardino Civil Rights Attorney
San Bernardino Practice Areas
San Bernardino Civil Rights Lawyer
The San Bernardino and Southern California regions are wonderful and diverse places to live. However, civil rights violations still happen to many people, even here. There are many times when people’s rights are not properly respected. If you have suffered civil rights violations, it’s essential that you get the recompense you deserve. A civil claim can not only hold those responsible for the harm they caused you liable, but it can also provide you with monetary stability and closure on a traumatic event.
Exum Law Offices has more than 25 years of experience fighting for people’s civil rights. We protect people’s rights and essential freedoms. Our firm can provide compassionate and effective representation for our clients, guiding them through difficult times and protecting their basic, unalienable rights.
Understanding Basic Civil Rights Laws
Both state and federal laws prohibit discrimination and protect people’s civil rights. These protections prevent unfair treatment and allow individuals to seek compensation for fraud, abuse, discrimination, unlawful arrest, and other violations. The basic civil rights under the U.S. Constitution include:
- Freedom of speech
- Religious freedom
- Freedom from unlawful search and seizure
- Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment
- Right to due process in a court of law
These rights uphold an individual’s dignity and freedom when faced with the actions of other individuals.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides federal protection against discrimination based on protected characteristics. This includes:
- Race and skin color
- National origin
Discrimination based on these characteristics is illegal. Other federal laws that provide protections include:
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act: This prohibits workplace discrimination based on age for employees over the age of 40.
- Age Discrimination Act of 1975: This prohibits discrimination based on age for programs of government assistance.
- Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA): This prevents discrimination against those with disabilities in areas such as employment, education, housing, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.
- The Equal Pay Act of 1963: This requires that all employees who do the same job receive the same pay, regardless of gender.
These laws and other laws protect additional characteristics, including:
- Gender orientation
- Mental or physical disabilities
- Pregnancy and childbirth
If you have been discriminated against for one of these protected characteristics, in the workplace or by an individual, company, or agency, you can file a complaint and receive compensation.
California Civil Rights Laws
Your civil rights are protected at both the federal and state levels. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) covers all the same scenarios as the federal civil rights protections and more. The Civil Rights Act provides discrimination protection in the workplace when an employer has 15 or more employees. The FEHA provides protections when an employer has 5 or more employees. The FEHA also provides additional protections for the following characteristics:
- Medical conditions
- Primary language
- Genetic information
- Marital status
- Immigration status
- Veteran or military status
California also has the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which protects individuals from being discriminated against by a business, including for housing and public accommodations, based on the following characteristics:
- Physical or mental disability
- Marital status
- Sex and gender
- Gender orientation and presentation
If a business turns away someone solely for these reasons, they can be held liable. If you’ve been discriminated against, you can file a civil claim to recover damages. A civil rights attorney can help you determine the ideal legal course of action based on the discrimination or civil rights violation you experienced.
Understanding Civil Rights Violations by Police and Governmental Agencies
Civil rights laws and regulations are supposed to provide protection from unlawful actions by law enforcement agencies such as the police. It is unfortunately common for civil rights and civil liberties violations to occur. Some examples include:
- False arrest, or the use of duress, deceit, or threat to restrain someone with no probable cause or warrant
- Unlawful search and seizure
- Use of excessive force, such as needless violence against those who are unarmed
- Racial profiling or any unfair targeting based on race, gender, or religion
- Unlawful detention or any other violations of 4th Amendment rights
- Prison and jail abuse by prison guards, prison facilities, or other inmates
- Medical neglect in prison
- Discrimination in court
These violations of an individual’s rights are unacceptable. If you’ve suffered any of these civil rights violations, you could gain compensation, especially for injuries or wrongful deaths associated with the violations.
What Does a Civil Rights Lawyer Do?
A civil rights attorney can defend clients against many civil rights violations. This includes discrimination, unlawful treatment by police officers, and other harassment and unfair treatment because of a person’s race, gender, or religion. They defend their clients against violations of their freedoms and advocate for their civil rights and liberties.
Many people are unaware of their rights and may not recognize a less obvious violation. You always want to understand your rights, and working with a civil rights attorney can help. If you’ve faced discrimination, or been arrested, the team at Exum Law Offices can represent you and your interests in civil or criminal court.
How Much Does a Civil Rights Lawyer Charge?
There are many factors to consider when determining the cost of a civil rights attorney. An attorney in a metropolitan area will cost more than one in a small town. If your case is more complex, or expected to end up in litigation rather than being solved through negotiation, it’s likely that it will be more expensive.
The more experienced an attorney is, the higher the rate they will charge. An attorney who has years of success and an understanding of civil rights and discrimination law can know the ideal route forward. They can also know what actions to avoid. Experienced attorneys can make your case move more quickly because they know what to expect from the process.
The biggest factor in attorney costs is the fee structure. Some civil rights attorneys will charge an hourly fee. The average cost of a civil rights attorney in California is $404 an hour. An hourly fee structure can add up quickly.
An attorney may also charge a contingency fee. This means that they receive a portion of the final compensation awarded at the end of the case. This means that you have to pay very few costs out-of-pocket, and you will only owe your attorney if they win the case.
Where Discrimination Is Most Commonly Seen
There are many types of civil rights violations. Discrimination is among the most common and litigated offenses. These cases include:
- Employment Discrimination: An employer cannot discriminate against an employee or job candidate based on a protected characteristic. Employment discrimination may take the form of refusing to hire you, terminating you from your job, harassment, retaliation, subjecting you to an otherwise hostile and unpleasant workplace, refusing to promote you, or forcing you to quit.
- Housing Discrimination: Under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, everyone has protections and fair access to housing. Leasing offices, landlords, and other housing sellers can be held liable if they refuse to sell to or drive out someone in a protected class. This protection also extends to families with children.
- Governmental Discrimination: Governmental agencies and police officers who discriminate against you based on a protected characteristic can be held responsible for doing so. It’s important to protect your rights by working with a civil rights attorney.
How Can a Discrimination Attorney Help?
Discrimination attorneys have experience dealing with workplace and institutional discrimination based on protected characteristics. They help with both individual and group claims, determining if one is valid and protecting your rights during the process of filing.
The legal system is complex and difficult to navigate. If you have faced discrimination, it can be difficult and even traumatic to gather evidence related to that discrimination to file a claim. An attorney can get that evidence for you and help you file a discrimination claim with the right agency and with the necessary information. Your attorney knows the essential deadlines and how to correctly word a complaint to improve its chances of success.
A discrimination attorney can also help determine if others have experienced the same discrimination. Often, a governmental agency will take action itself if multiple people have similar complaints about the same business or employer. The penalties will be greater, and the same person or business is unlikely to engage in the discriminating behavior again.
If you can sue your employer or the business that discriminated against you, your attorney can represent you in negotiations and in court. This makes the process much less stressful for you and allows you to approach the case with confidence.
Filing a Workplace Discrimination Claim
In most cases, you can’t immediately file a claim against your employer. If you were discriminated against by an agency that was not your employer, you should examine your options with a civil rights attorney. Most employees are required to go through administrative avenues before filing a claim, which means filing a discrimination complaint with the relevant agencies.
A discrimination complaint can either be filed with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) or with a federal agency known as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Your attorney can advise you as to the right agency to send your complaint, which may be impacted by:
- The Size of Your Workplace: The CRD discrimination protections extend to workplaces with 5 or more employees, while the EEOC protections extend to workplaces with 15 or more employees, or 20 or more employees for age discrimination claims.
- The Type of Discrimination You’re Facing: California has wider protections for certain groups than federal law. California has specific protections against transgender discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination, while federal law only provides gender orientation discrimination protection. For those facing transgender or sexual orientation discrimination, it may be better to file with the CRD for this reason.
When you file with the EEOC or the CRD, you can either request an immediate right to sue notice or wait for the agency to investigate and take the case to court itself. The CRD advises that you only request an immediate right to sue if you are working with an attorney.
The EEOC or the CRD is likely to file a claim against your employer if it investigates and finds multiple violations of discrimination protections. If one of these agencies files against your employer, the consequences will be more significant.
If the agency sends you a right to sue notice, you can file against your employer yourself without the help of the agency. This is much easier with the counsel and support of a civil rights attorney.
Statute of Limitations for Workplace Discrimination Claims
There are strict legal deadlines for any civil case. It’s important to work quickly to gather the necessary evidence and be aware of legal timeframes. An attorney can help you adhere to import deadlines. If you are filing your complaint with the EEOC, you have 180 days from the most recent date of discrimination to file. If state or local laws provide the same discrimination protection as federal law, you have 300 days to file. A complaint filed with the CRD must be filed within 3 years of the last instance of discrimination.
Once you receive your right to sue notice from the EEOC, you have 90 days to file in a relevant state or federal court. If you filed with the CRD, you have one year from receiving the notice to file.
Exum Law Offices: Your San Bernardino Civil Rights Attorney
Unfortunately, many people experience civil rights violations around the state and across the country. It’s essential that those rights are protected. At Exum Law Offices, we understand civil rights laws and believe in fighting against injustice and inequality. We protect you, your rights, and your interests in every step of the process, whether you have suffered workplace discrimination, unlawful conduct by law enforcement, or court misconduct. Our firm can help you file your claim and represent you in negotiation, settlement, and litigation. Contact our team today for legal advocacy and protection.