It’s Saturday afternoon. After a stressful week at work, you decide to treat yourself to a little shopping spree. You head out to the local mall and step into one of your favorite boutiques. However, you quickly notice that something is off. The shopkeeper seems to be eyeing you suspiciously, closely monitoring your every move as she follows you around the store. As you leave, she instructs the security guard to have you searched.
You may be a victim of the phenomenon known as “shopping while black”–a type of consumer racial profiling where one is denied service or otherwise treated poorly in a store because one is black. Racial profiling is a type of racial discrimination, which is a violation of your civil rights.
Civil rights are a broad category of rights designed to ensure the equal treatment of all people in a variety of areas (work, education and housing, to name a few). The New Mexico Human Rights Act is a state law that protects you from any discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender and handicap, among other factors.
If your civil rights have been violated, you have a few options for recourse:
- Informal negotiations: In some cases, it may be possible to get both parties to sit down and draft a resolution together, thereby avoiding a complicated legal battle. For example, this option is often used in cases of workplace discrimination.
- File a claim with the government: You can file a complaint with the government, and they will conduct an investigation and take further steps on your behalf. Determining whether to file your claim with the federal or state government will depend on the details of your case.
- File a private lawsuit: You also have the option of filing a private lawsuit against the responsible party. In this case, you will also need to determine whether to file in state or federal court.
In the face of any civil rights violation, it’s important to understand your rights and the courses of action available to you. An attorney specializing in civil rights violations can help walk you through the best option for your case.