What Happens When You File a Civil Rights Complaint or Lawsuit?

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

Many laws are in place to help prevent discrimination and protect the rights of people in minority groups as well as the public as a whole.  Many of these laws apply to the government directly, but other rules prevent discrimination and other rights violations in education, housing, and public accommodations (such as hotels and restaurants).  If your rights were violated, you may be able to file a complaint with the proper government agencies or file a lawsuit in court – but what happens when you file a complaint?  What are the next steps?  The civil rights violation attorney at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin explains.

Who Do I File a Civil Rights Complaint With?

The federal government has a few major laws that govern civil rights and prevent discrimination across the country.  Many of these laws allow victims to do 2 things to seek justice:

  1. File a complaint with the appropriate government entity
  2. File an independent cause of action – a civil lawsuit – to seek compensation for the injustice

Different anti-discrimination and civil rights laws are governed by different agencies.  For instance, the following agencies oversee these corresponding civil rights rules:

  • The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights oversees Title IX education discrimination claims
  • The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights oversees claims of discrimination in healthcare
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity oversees housing discrimination claims
  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission oversees employment discrimination cases

Other types of discrimination claims might be overseen by other entities.  In addition to these federal agencies, state antidiscrimination claims might be filed with various state entities.  Some complaints, such as Title IX gender discrimination complaints, have various steps in the process for filing the complaint directly with the institution accused of discrimination as well as the Office for Civil Rights.

Note that all of these complaints are filed with the government to ask them to investigate the discrimination claims and perhaps punish the individual, company, or institution that committed the discrimination.  But these complaints are separate from civil rights lawsuits, which can be filed in court with the bad actor listed as the defendant.  These claims may need to go through the federal agency first before you can file your lawsuit in court – but your civil rights violation attorney can help figure out that process for you.

What Happens After I File a Civil Rights Claim?

The procedures and expectations may be different depending on the type of civil rights complaint, but the response to a complaint will typically be an investigation.  The agency might have a backlog of complaints, but when they get to your claim, they will typically gather info and research the issue, investigating the company, individual, or institution that is said to have discriminated against you.  In some cases, these investigations may be large-scale, and the agency might find multiple issues of discrimination against multiple victims.

In cases where the agency finds that the individual, company, or institution did indeed discriminate, they may hold hearings and punish the bad actors for what they did.  This could include fining them or requiring new policies to correct past mistakes.

Separate from all of this, you and your attorney can work to file a lawsuit in court to seek damages for the discrimination.  Many times, this is where victims truly seek justice, with judges able to order relief in many forms.

Types of Damages and Relief for Civil Rights Lawsuits

When your civil rights case goes to court, the judge often has the power to rule in your favor and award various types of relief.  This could include monetary damages in some cases, but other “equitable relief” might be necessary to reverse the effects of discrimination in some cases.  Our attorneys explain how these forms of relief work.

In many cases of discrimination, the victim faces additional expenses because of the discrimination.  For instance, if you are denied housing because of your race or national origin, you may end up paying higher rent at a different housing complex.  In a lawsuit for this kind of discrimination, the housing complex that discriminated against you might be made to pay for that additional rent.  If you were denied a promotion because of your sex, your employer may be required to pay you the difference in wages you would have received had you actually been promoted.  Other times, damages can be ordered to pay for embarrassment or discomfort you faced rather than economic harm.

In cases where money will not fix the problem, the court may order the discriminatory person, company, or institution to do something to correct the issue and restore your rights.  For instance, if you file a lawsuit for a Title IX violation that claims you were unjustly expelled because of your sex, the court might be able to order the school to let you return to class.  Many types of equitable relief could be ordered as part of a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order where the court will order the changes to be made first before hearing the case, then they will hear the full case to either reinforce their decision or cancel the changes based on the outcome of the lawsuit.  Equitable relief is common in employment discrimination cases where the court could order the company to reinstate you to your former position or grant a promotion.

Call Our Civil Rights Violation Lawyer for Help with Your Case

If you or a loved one faced discrimination based on your sex, race, religion, disability, national origin, LGBTQ+ status, or other attributes, contact an attorney today.  The Law Office of Andrew Shubin represents victims of discrimination across the country and fights for their rights in complaints and lawsuits to seek relief and monetary compensation.  For a free legal consultation on your case, call us today at (814) 826-3586.


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