We as lawyers don’t expect the public to know what the law is and don’t blame them when they think the law is one thing when it really is something else. The most common example of that happening is when someone calls and wants to sue for a civil rights violation.

Often people think that being treated unfairly is a violation of their civil rights. For example, maybe you have treated with a doctor who no longer wishes to treat you or your landlord wants to end your lease.  Those situations on their face are not civil rights claims. A civil rights lawsuit has to show that a protected class has been harmed due to their status as part of a protected class. These violations occur if a person has had their granted freedoms taken away or is discriminated against based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Gender
  • Age
  • National origin
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion

So if you are denied the chance to buy a house because of the color of your skin, that would be a case. If you are being sexually harassed at work, that could be a lawsuit.  If you are denied entry in to a restaurant because you are gay, that could be a case.

The most high profile of these lawsuits are when the police use excessive force, often based on discriminatory reasons. Those are also civil rights claims, either under Federal or Illinois laws.

The purpose of civil rights laws is to protect people against discrimination. So to show you have a case, you have to prove that you were discriminated against. You can’t just suspect it’s true, you have to have evidence. So if you think you were fired because you are 60, knowing in your heart that it’s true isn’t enough. An email or statement that says they are getting rid of you because you are too old would be needed or circumstantial evidence like the only workers being fired are over 40. It’s not illegal to fire an older person, but it is illegal to do it because they are old.  You have to prove your case.  The defendant doesn’t have to disprove anything.

These cases can be difficult to prove since most people don’t come out and announce that they are choosing to discriminate against you. But it’s not impossible. If you would like to speak with a lawyer for free to see if you have a case, you can fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5320.