Civil Rights Attorney Handling Discrimination Cases in Shreveport, Bossier City, and the Surrounding Areas

American citizens are awarded certain freedoms and are protected against certain wrongful acts, like acts of discrimination. Discrimination, whether based on race, gender, religion, disability, or any other protected characteristic, can have profound and lasting effects on individuals and communities.

When faced with injustice, it’s essential to have a dedicated legal advocate by your side. If you have experienced discrimination or believe your civil rights have been violated, you don’t have to face the challenges alone. Shreveport-Bossier civil rights attorney Michael J. Vergis is committed to combating discrimination in all its forms.

Call us at (318) 698-3724 or complete our online intake form to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Vergis regarding your claim today.

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Louisiana Discrimination Laws

Like many states, Louisiana defers to federal legislation regarding most acts of discrimination. However, Louisiana does have its own anti-discrimination laws in regard to employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and disability discrimination. These laws are enforced by the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.

Employment Discrimination

Louisiana’s workplace discrimination laws (La. R.S. § 23.301) prohibit employers from discriminating against workers based on:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Race
  • Sex
  • National origin
  • Natural, protective, or cultural hairstyle
  • Pregnancy status
  • Sickle cell trait
  • Genetic information

These classes of individuals are protected from certain discriminatory practices in hiring, employment, and termination. Based on an applicant or employee’s intrinsic characteristics, an employer cannot intentionally do things like:

  • Refuse to hire, promote, or provide reasonable accommodations for an employee
  • Segregate or separate an employee in a way that deprives them of employment opportunities
  • Pay an employee less than another for equal work under similar circumstances  
  • Use physical or mental exams on certain employees/applicants and not others
  • Indicate preference in applicants when it has nothing to do with the job or position
  • Refuse to provide an employee with the same benefits and privileges as other employees
  • Disclose sensitive information about an employee for the purpose of discrimination

It’s important to note that this Louisiana law only applies to employers who have 20 or more employees in Louisiana who are regularly working for them. The only exception to this is in cases regarding pregnancy status, in which case, employers must have 25 or more employees in the state who regularly work for them for these laws to apply. 

It’s also important to note that, in cases involving disability and pregnancy status, employers are only required to provide reasonable accommodations. These are any accommodations that would not cause undue hardship on the employer, which is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Workplace Discrimination and At-Will Employment

Employment discrimination cases can seem tricky in states with “at-will employment” like Louisiana. At-will employment is the legal doctrine that states an employer can terminate an employee for any legal reason, with or without warning, unless you have an express or implied contract of employment, or if you are a member of a labor union with a collective-bargaining agreement. 

Termination of employment based on discrimination is illegal, so employers are not allowed to fire employees based on certain characteristics. If you have been fired based on your age, race, sex, or other intrinsic characteristic, you may be able to file a civil rights claim against your employer. Shreveport-Bossier labor and employment attorney Michael J. Vergis can provide unparalleled assistance for these types of cases.

Housing Discrimination

Louisiana law also protects citizens from discrimination in the housing sector under the Louisiana Equal Housing Opportunity Act (La. R.S. § 51:2601). It states that anyone in Louisiana has the right to find housing whenever it is available, and all people have the right to compete for housing on an open, fair, and equitable basis.

This Louisiana law specifically prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing based on a person’s:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial status
  • National origin
  • Natural, protective, or cultural hairstyle

The act also specifically outlaws certain discriminatory actions based on the above characteristics. This means that, based on a person’s intrinsic characteristics, real estate owners cannot do certain things like:

  • Refuse to sell or rent a property to someone after they have made a fair offer
  • Indicate a preference for a buyer or renter
  • Lie about housing availability
  • Attempt to induce sales based on representation of certain groups in the area 

It’s also illegal for real estate owners to discriminate against those with a disability, including those who are

  • Looking to buy or rent the property
  • Intending to live on the property after the sale or rental is made
  • Associated with the person who is buying or renting the property

Based on a person’s disability, property owners cannot do things like:

  • Refuse reasonable modifications that are made at the expense of the person with the disability
  • Refuse reasonable accommodation when they are required for equal opportunity
  • Refuse to comply with national building ordinances regarding accessibility

There are a number of exceptions to these anti-discrimination laws, based on property ownership, financing sources, and the type of dwelling. It’s important that anyone who has been discriminated against in the housing market consults with a civil rights lawyer. They can help evaluate the circumstances of the case and determine whether or not this law applies to their situation.  

Disability Discrimination

Lastly, state law explicitly protects those with disabilities, legally ensuring that every individual in the state is afforded an equal opportunity to live a full and productive life (La. R.S. § 46:2252). It specifically protects those who have an impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities, like walking, talking, seeing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. 

In addition to housing and employment, the law protects those with disabilities from discrimination in educational facilities and state-funded assistance programs. 

Those with disabilities are often more vulnerable to systematic abuse. If your loved one has a disability and their rights have been violated, it’s important to contact an attorney who can help ensure they receive fair and just treatment. 

Other Discrimination Protections

In addition to state discrimination laws, many Louisiana cities have their own various anti-discrimination ordinances, which can help protect certain groups in the local area. Some of these cities include:

If you have been the victim of discrimination in any one of these cities, check your local ordinances to see what specific acts are prohibited in your area. If your local municipality does not protect you from a given act of discrimination, state or federal law likely will. 

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Federal Discrimination Laws

Discrimination is also outlawed by various federal laws, which aim to protect individuals from discrimination in various sectors. Below are some of the most notable federal anti-discrimination laws. 

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII): protects against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, and sex in employment matters. 
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): protects individuals aged 40 and older from employment discrimination based on age
  • Equal Pay Act (EPA): requires employers to pay equal wages to employees of both sexes who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504): prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by federal agencies, contractors, and programs receiving federal financial assistance
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA): protects individuals from genetic information discrimination in employment and health insurance coverage
  • Fair Housing Act: bans discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status. 
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972: prohibits sex-based discrimination in educational programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. 
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA): amends Title VII to include pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions under the umbrella of sex discrimination
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA): protects the employment rights of military service members and veterans

These federal anti-discrimination laws play a crucial role in promoting equal rights and opportunities across various aspects of life, including employment, education, housing, and access to public services. 

Understanding Your Rights in a Discrimination Case

Victims of discrimination have various rights and legal options when pursuing a discrimination case. These rights can vary depending on the specific anti-discrimination laws that apply in their jurisdiction and the circumstances of the discrimination. 

Normally, victims of discrimination have the right to:

  • File a complaint with the relevant government agency responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws. 
  • Protection from retaliation from their employers or the party responsible for the discrimination.
  • Seek legal representation from an attorney
  • Cooperate with a discrimination investigation and provide evidence to support their case
  • Participate in mediation or conciliation with the party or parties responsible for the alleged act of discrimination
  • File a lawsuit in a civil court against the party or parties responsible for the discrimination. 
  • Access relevant records, documents, and information related to their case
  • Privacy regarding their case.
  • Be treated fairly, without bias or prejudice, by the relevant government agency, mediator, or court
  • Appeal the court’s decision or seek further legal remedies through higher courts

It’s essential for discrimination victims to consult with an attorney experienced in discrimination law to understand their specific rights and options, as these can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of discrimination involved. A legal professional can provide guidance, file a suit on behalf of the victim, and advocate for their rights throughout the process.

They can also help file their case in a timely manner. Discrimination suits have a limited window in which they can be filed. In most discrimination lawsuits, victims must file within 1 year of the alleged act of discrimination. 

How an Experienced Civil Rights Attorney Can Help

In the fight against discrimination, an experienced civil rights attorney can be a valuable ally. Discrimination lawyers act as strong legal advocates for their clients and will act in their client’s best interests. They can provide guidance and support throughout the entire legal process, from filing a complaint to representing their clients in court, if necessary. 

Civil rights attorneys can also use their deep understanding of the law and extensive experience in discrimination law to help their clients receive justice. This can come in the form of compensation for things like lost wages, as well as in the form of punitive damages.

These legal professionals are dedicated to upholding the principles of equality and justice, and possess the expertise and knowledge required to navigate the legal landscape surrounding discrimination cases. Having a dedicated civil rights attorney on your side can provide you with the support you need to receive justice in your case.

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Call The Law Office of Shreveport-Bossier City Discrimination Attorney Michael J. Vergis Today

Discrimination, in any form, is a grave violation of an individual’s basic human rights. It can have devastating consequences, not only on the victim’s emotional well-being but also on their personal and professional life. If you have suffered from discrimination in Louisiana, Michael J. Vergis, Attorney at Law is here to be your trusted legal advocate through this difficult time.

Attorney Vergis is dedicated to his clients and will fiercely fight for their rights in the face of injustice, ensuring that those responsible for discrimination are held accountable. He understands the unique challenges individuals face when confronting discrimination, and he is prepared to stand by your side throughout the entire legal process.

Your rights matter–call our law firm at (318) 698-3724 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Vergis regarding your case.