When it comes to your rights, both as a citizen and as a person, you may wonder just how much influence others are allowed to have over you. You may have heard the terms “individual rights,” “civil rights” and “human rights” and are wondering whether these are all the same thing and how they impact you.
The reality is that there are some minor but important differences between individual rights and human rights, and if your rights have been violated, you may have the ability to take legal action. However, whether or not you can sue varies greatly depending on what rights have been violated and who has violated these rights.
Are Individual Rights And Human Rights The Same?
First, it is important to understand that there are different types of rights: individual rights (often also referred to as civil rights) and human rights. Human rights include fundamental freedoms such as the rights to life, shelter and expression. These rights are considered essential to every human being and thus are often defended on an international scale rather than in a United States court through lawsuits.
Civil rights are the rights given by a specific country to its citizens. In the United States, the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions lay out these rights. Some of the rights protected by the U.S. Constitution include free speech, due process, and equal protection.
So, as a short answer to this question: no, individual rights and human rights are not exactly the same thing. They are merely similar in concept.
What Are Human Rights?
Human rights, in contrast, are the rights and freedoms that every person holds regardless of their nationality. The United Nations defines this concept as “rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status.” The United Nations has created a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that sets the standard for human rights worldwide.
What Are Individual Rights?
Civil rights are the rights defended by a specific country in the country’s constitution or other laws. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines civil rights as “personal rights guaranteed and protected by the U.S. Constitution and federal laws enacted by Congress, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.” Your individual rights come in large part, too, from the Bill of Rights in the Constitution; this is where free speech and other iconic freedoms are located.
Can You Sue A Person Who Violates Your Civil Rights?
When someone violates your civil rights, you may have the ability to sue them. It is important to note, however, that this primarily applies to government abuses of your civil rights. If a private company violates certain rights, you may still be able to seek legal action for breaking other laws but not typically for the breaking of civil rights laws. Whether or not you can sue also depends on which civil right has been violated.
One example is in relation to the civil right of free speech. If the government interferes with your right to free speech by preventing you from speaking, you may be able to sue. If you are banned on Twitter, this does not merit suing based on civil rights violations because Twitter is a private company.
Just because a company is private does not mean, however, that it is immune from violating your rights and being held legally responsible. One instance in which a private company may be sued for civil rights violations is if the company exhibits employment discrimination of some kind. The government promises the right to equal employment opportunity. If a company violates that right, then you can sue despite the fact that a private organization has violated the right rather than the government.
In short, you can sue based on violations of civil rights, but you must be sure that your rights were actually violated. This includes considering whether the offender was a private individual or company and whether this actor had the ability to be held legally liable for the violation.
Trust The Professionals To Help You Understand Your Rights
When it comes to determining what to do when you believe that your rights have been violated, you may feel overwhelmed. The best way to make sense of all of the nuances that go into determining the legal process for protecting your rights is to speak with a professional. The attorneys at The Brown Firm would be happy to explain whether you have a case and help you to seek the justice that you deserve if your rights have been violated. Reach out online or over the phone at (703) 936- 7520 to schedule a consultation.