Austin Section 1983 Civil Rights Lawyer
As Austin employment attorneys, Melton & Kumler are dedicated to ensuring civil rights for all employees in our city. To further that goal, we would like to provide information about important legislation, such as Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871.
The Civil Rights Act of 1871, also known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, allows the federal government to protect U.S. citizens from discrimination on a state level. The law was passed to address the issue of Southern state governments that were unwilling or unable to effectively stop KKK activity or other violations of human rights.
Before the Act went into effect, people accused of lynching were tried in state courts, often before all-white juries, and were rarely convicted. State militias and local police forces were used to combat lynch mobs and quell riots, often with little effect. Once the act was passed, lynching was tried on a federal level before more diverse juries, and the federal troops were deployed to enforce state laws.
Currently, Section 1983 is the most legally relevant subsection of the Act. This section gives individuals the right to file suits against state agencies that have violated their civil rights. Although it was previously rarely enforced, a 1961 Supreme Court decision gave the section new meaning by clarifying its purpose. According to the Supreme Court, the purpose is:
- To allow the federal government to override discriminatory state laws
- To protect the rights of people when state laws do not adequately do so
- To allow the federal government to intervene if state remedies are not working
For example, if your employer is violating one of your federal rights, and your state’s law does not address this issue, a dedicated Austin employment attorney could help you file a suit that could eventually get your state’s law changed. In other words, Section 1983 helps protect innocent people from becoming victims of a discriminatory state government.
If you are a government employee facing illegal discrimination at work, or if your state government is failing to guarantee your federally granted rights, contact the office of Austin civil rights lawyers Melton & Kumler at 512-330-0017.