What are Civil Rights in Pennsylvania?

Civil rights are granted to every person in the United States to protect them from unfair treatment. The Office of the Attorney General in Pennsylvania protects the rights of all Pennsylvanians regardless of how they look, their religious or political affiliations, or who they love.  

Civil litigation attorneys in Philadelphia explain that civil rights include:

  • Freedom from discrimination based on various classes such as race, sex, or national origin
  • Freedom of speech, assembly, and religion
  • The right to procedural due process
  • The right to petition the government

In defending these rights, the Attorney General’s office works closely with the federal, state, and local civil rights agencies to protect citizens from public accommodation, housing, employment, and education discrimination. It also seeks injunctions or other equitable relief to protect individuals against hate crimes or ethnic intimidation.

What is a Civil Rights Violation?

Unfortunately, people are often subjected to various forms of civil rights violations by law enforcers and different government employees based on factors such as religion, gender, race, or disability. If you have experienced the following, you could have been a victim of civil rights violations. Skilled PHL civil rights & police misconduct attorneys in Pennsylvania could help you pursue justice:

  • Cruel and unusual punishment
  • Unreasonable searches and seizures
  • Losing a job or being denied a promotion on a discriminatory basis
  • Abuse by a public official
  • Discrimination based on a superficial belief or quality
  • Invasion of privacy 
  • Unequal protection under the law, usually due to racial profiling and discrimination

How Can I Start a Civil Rights Violation Lawsuit?

Preparing a complaint is the first step in filing a civil rights violation lawsuit. The Pennsylvania court system provides specialized forms for filing a general civil rights violation complaint, employment discrimination complaint, and appeal of a denial of Social Security benefits.

Skilled Pennsylvania PHL civil rights & police misconduct attorneys can evaluate your case and advise on the type of form to use in filing your complaint. They can also explain the concepts around civil lawsuits, your rights, and various options.

Determining Jurisdiction for Your Civil Lawsuit

Before filing your complaint, your lawyers will help you determine whether the court can decide your case, also known as a determination of jurisdiction. State courts and federal courts differ in the types of cases they can decide:

  • State courts have broad or general jurisdiction
  • Federal courts have limited or specific jurisdiction and handle two main types of cases, namely Federal Question Cases that involve violation of Federal Law and Diversity Cases where the plaintiff and defendant are from different states and the case value exceeds $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs.

Federal district courts don’t have jurisdiction to consider “appeals” from state courts. If you wish to appeal a state court’s decision, your PHL civil rights & police misconduct lawyers in Pennsylvania can provide legal guidance and representation.

Ways to File Your Civil Rights Complaint

You can use one of the four methods to file your legal documents with the court:

  • Using the Electronic Document Submission (EDS) system
  • Submission through mail
  • Placing the documents in the drop boxes available in the courthouse lobbies
  • Delivering them at the Clerk’s Office during the court’s open hours

After filing a new case, your complaint will be docketed, and the Clerk’s Office will send you a notice indicating the case number, assigned judge, and several legal guidelines. Working with experienced Pennsylvania civil litigation lawyers can enhance your chances of achieving the most favorable outcome in your case.

Where Else Can I File My Civil Rights Complaint?

Depending on the nature of your civil rights complaint, you may have other options in seeking redress for violation of your civil rights:

  • File a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission within 180 days of the alleged violation
  • Depending on the civil rights violated, file a complaint with another state or federal agency. For example, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for education discrimination claims or the Department of Housing and Urban Development for housing discrimination claims
  • File a complaint with another section within the Office of the Attorney General
  • Seek relief through PHL civil rights & police misconduct attorneys in Pennsylvania

What Types of Damages and Relief Can I Recover from a Civil Rights Lawsuit?

Judges can rule in your favor and sometimes award various types of relief, including monetary damages. Equitable relief may also be available to reverse the effects of discrimination in some cases. In some cases of discrimination, the victim faces additional expenses.

For example, being denied housing because of your origin or race may cause you to pay higher rent at a different housing complex. In such a lawsuit, the housing complex that discriminated against you may be made to pay for the additional rent. If you were denied a promotion based on sex, the court could order your employer to reimburse you the difference in wages you would have received after the promotion.

In other cases, the court can order damages to compensate you for embarrassment or discomfort due to discrimination rather than economic harm. It could require the defendant to take corrective measures to restore your rights. Your lawyers can advise on the damages you can recover based on your case circumstances.

An Experienced Civil Rights Attorney Helping You Seek Relief for Civil Rights Violation

If you or your loved one were subjected to civil rights discrimination, consult experienced PHL civil rights & police misconduct attorneys in Pennsylvania. They can look into your case and help you file a complaint in pursuit of relief for the unfair treatment.

Abramson Denenberg, P.C. hosts skilled civil litigation attorneys who can provide legal representation to fight for your rights and obtain compensation for unfair treatment. We have an unwavering commitment to clients and believe in protecting and upholding Pennsylvania residents’ rights. Call us at 215-398-7066 to schedule a case assessment.