Justice is our number one priority at The Law Office of Ali Najmi, and one of our most defining characteristics is our commitment to fighting for clients’ rights. Your civil rights are guaranteed by local, state, and federal laws, including the right to vote, the right to privacy, and the right to equal protection. But when your rights are violated and you have suffered physical or psychological injuries, then you need to speak with the civil rights lawyer in New York about suing for compensation. At The Law Office of Ali Najmi, we offer a free, confidential consultation to discuss your situation and your rights under both federal and New York State law.
Understanding Your Civil Rights – What Are Your Civil Rights?
Civil rights protect individuals from unfair treatment and guarantee the right to receive equal treatment. They also include the right to be free from discrimination when applying to a job, school/university, buying a home, and much more. The laws protect anyone from banning you from these opportunities based on:
- Your race
- Any disabilities you may have
- The color of your skin
- Your gender
- Your national origin
Whereas civil liberties are broad freedoms and rights that are guaranteed at the federal level, civil rights are based on the basic right to not be discriminated against in a school, job, or any other setting due to the factors listed.
When people hear about the Civil Rights Movement they often think about people of color organizing to end racial discrimination, but civil rights encompass all of the rights of all individuals. There have been multiple movements in the United States that were inspired by the Civil Rights Movement such as the Chicano Movement and the American Indian Movement. Certainly, politics and the shifting social-political climate effect which laws are passed. Decades ago, it was unheard of for interracial or same-sex couples to openly hold hands in public, and now it is not only illegal but considered immoral to deny them their rights to marriage. A New York civil rights attorney stays abreast of current events and how they affect their practice.
The Laws Protecting And Regulating Civil Rights
Civil rights are protected at a federal level. The following are different federal laws that have been passed:
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964: This historic legislation ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, or religion. It also prohibited the unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations. It was signed in July 1964 but was proposed by President John F. Kennedy in June 1963. It was pushed forward by later President Lyndon B. Johnson.
- Voting Rights Act of 1965: The Jim Crowe laws in the South prevented Black people from being able to cast their votes in elections and have a voice in the democratic process. In 2013 the Supreme Court invalidated key parts of the voting rights act in Shelby County v. Holder.
- The Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968 to protect people from discrimination when buying or renting a home, particularly on the basis of race.
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: This portion prohibits organizations and employers from discriminating against people with disabilities who want to receive or have access to certain programs or services, such as education.
- Age Discrimination Act of 1975: this U.S. labor law was enacted in 1967 and prohibits discrimination against job applicants and employees over the age of 40.
- The Americans With Disabilities Act: The ADA protected people who are blind, deaf, have diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, mobility impairments, intellectual disabilities or many other types of disabilities from being discriminated against when seeking employment, transportation, public accommodations and access to state and local government services and benefits.
What Are Civil Liberties?
It’s easy to see how people can confuse civil rights and civil liberties, and even use the terms interchangeably. However, they have markedly different meanings. It’s important to understand this distinction when learning the legal terms so that you can use them properly and understand them for your own sake in your legal proceedings.
Civil liberties are your fundamental rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States. Included in your civil liberties are the right to:
- Free speech
- To remain silent
- To be secure in your person, house, paper and effects against reasonable search or seizure
- To a fair trial
- To vote
- To marry
This distinction is important when considering which rights have been violated, and can help shed light on the difference between civil rights and civil liberties. For example, women have the right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace, but they are not given the right to a promotion. However, if a woman is qualified and deserves the promotion, then it would be against the law to discriminate against her and not give her the position solely on the basis of her gender. That would be a civil rights violation.
What is discrimination?
Discrimination is the unjust or unfair singling out of people based on their race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or any other group or class which they are perceived to belong to. There are laws that protect citizens from various types of discrimination that are enforced by various agencies. Do U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulates and enforces the discrimination laws. The different types of discrimination that they prohibit include:
- Sexual harassment
- Gender identity, including transgender status and sexual orientation
- National origin
- Equal pay/compensation
- Genetic information, which includes information about diseases or disorders in a person’s family as well as a person’s family medical history
Examples of Civil Rights Violations And Discrimination
There are many different ways that people’s rights can be violated, but there are few that are seen over and over again. One of them is sex and gender discrimination in education. Title IX of the 1932 Education Amendments outlawed sex-based discrimination in education, and protected students from sexual assault, harassment, and stalking. If a student is told that they are not welcome in a sport because of their gender, for example, then they can file a case under Title IX.
Workplace Sexual Harassment
Since the beginning of the #metoo movement, sexual harassment in the workplace has been a more widely discussed topic. Victims of discrimination and harassment in the workplace are protected but must follow certain steps in order to bring their claim forward. An attorney who specializes in these kinds of cases can help victims fight for a safer workplace.
The Civil Rights Act 1968 included the Fair Housing Act, which made it unlawful for landlords to discriminate against potential tenants based on their race, gender, or other protected traits, particularly who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color.
Unlawful Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution recognizes that all individuals have the right to be free from restraint or interference from others, particularly the government. This amendment protects citizens from having law enforcement search their office, home, car or their own person without a warrant or reasonable suspicion.
The requirements for someone to be considered reasonably suspicious have to be fit based on facts. An officer can’t just detain someone based on a hunch. If an officer witnessed a drug deal, or responded to a domestic violence call where there was a victim with bruises and another individual denying that anything happened, then the police have reason to believe that a crime was committed. They will then arrest the suspect and detain them for further questioning. If you believe that your constitutional rights were violated and that you were subjected to an unlawful search and seizure, then call our office today.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are my rights when stopped by the police?
It’s important to remember that everything you say to the police can and will be used against you in the court of law. In order to exercise your right to not speak, you must tell the police “I would like to remain silent.” The police may only briefly detain you if there is reasonable suspicion that you have committed or about to commit a crime, or currently are committing one. Because in the state of New York you are not required to carry an ID with you, unless you were driving, you do not need to show your ID to a police officer. However, it is important to tell the officers who you are or to produce an ID if you are issued a summons or arrested. Otherwise, they can detain you for even longer until you are identified.
I feel my rights have been violated. What are my options?
If you feel that your civil rights have been violated, there are a couple of ways for you to file your complaint. First, you can file a complaint with the government or the agency in charge of those who have violated your rights. An investigation will be opened to determine what to do about the claim. In your claim, you will need to explain how your rights were violated and what damages the violation caused you. You may decide to hire a civil rights attorney, which would be a wise decision so you can get the counsel you need.
How long do I have to file a claim?
You have 180 days after the date you feel your civil rights have been violated in order to file your complaint. This is why it’s so important to act quickly and contact our office today so we can bring you in for a consultation, listen to your situation, and determine the best course of action is for you.
Who decides whether or not an officer was justified in shooting?
The use of lethal force will certainly stop a person who is committing a crime, but excessive force also causes serious bodily harm or the death of another person. These cases have been in the news quite a lot recently. Generally, officers are allowed to use deadly force if they see that a deadly force is being used against themselves or another person. For example, if a police officer sees someone stabbing another individual, then they can use lethal force to stop the perpetrator and protect the victim.
Most departments conduct internal reviews to determine the agency’s policies and protocols and to determine if they were followed in the incident being investigated. Most departments around the country have a policy that the use of force is allowed in order to subdue someone who is harming another person’s life, such as when a police officer shoots someone who is stabbing another individual. But it’s never so straightforward, and there have been numerous cases where the officers’ decision to use force was simply the wrong choice. At The Law Office of Ali Najmi, we will evaluate your case and determine whether or not there was excessive use of force by the police, and how to proceed.
Why do police officers use guns instead of Tasers? Are Tasers safer?
Since the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the beginning of summer 2020, more people are discussing the topic of police brutality and the use of force available to police officers to do their job. Citizens all around the country are being asked to look into their local police department’s practices and have a voice in how the police conduct themselves. One of the biggest questions that people are asking is why police officers use guns instead of tasers. One of the biggest reasons why they do not use Tasers because they fail about 30% of the time. Police officers also have to keep in mind the distance between themselves and the suspect.
Statistics and Related Numbers
According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the following statistics show the arrests in New York City between 2010 and 2019 among adults ages 18 and older:
- There were a total of 312,399 arrests in 2010 compared to 172,512 in 2019, with the number of total arrests steadily decreasing each year.
- In 2010 there were a total of 228,840 arrests for misdemeanor charges, with the majority of them being for drugs (78,090) followed by property (71,658).
- In 2019 there were a total of 102,593 arrests for misdemeanor charges, with the majority of them being for “other” (51,291) followed by property (32,994).
- There were a total of 83,559 total felony arrests in 2010, with the majority of them falling in the “other” category 38,496, with the next two most common arrests being for drugs or violence.
- In 2019 there were a total of 69,919 total felony arrests with the majority of them being due to “other” (37,170) and the next most common arrest was for violence (22,604).
In comparison to the state of New York, in 2010 there were a total of 538,613 arrests, with 147,854 of them related to felony charges and 390,759 for misdemeanor charges. In 2019 there were a total of 356,333 total arrests in the state of New York, breaking down to 125,707 felonies and 230,626 for misdemeanor charges.
According to a report, New York City taxpayers spent $230 million on New York City Police Department settlements. A total of 6,472 lawsuits were settled against the NYPD, which was a 32% decrease from June 2017, which is when the city paid out $335 million. Of the total, about $108 million was reported to be related to allegations of police misconduct. The report also noted that this was a double the amount that was paid out in 2009.
How We Help
If you have any questions about your civil rights being violated then you’ll need to speak to a civil rights lawyer in New York who will be able to determine if you have a valid legal claim to your damages, which laws apply to your situation and who is liable for the harm that you suffered.
The Law Office of Ali Najmi has been representing and fighting for clients since 2011. In 2009 Mr. Najmi joined the New York City Council as the Legislative Director, and has been recognized as one of The National Trial Lawyer’s Top 40 Under 40 Criminal Defense Attorneys. We fight aggressively to protect the rights of our clients but work with compassion and understanding. As a longtime resident of New York, Mr. Najmi is passionate about helping the people here. If you are looking for a New York civil rights lawyer, human rights lawyer or equal rights attorney then call us today.