CIVIL RIGHTS LAW
The term "civil rights law" covers a broad range of matters in public and private settings. In particular, rights guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions regulate the actions of public actors such as the federal government, states, counties, and cities. Several federal and state laws also address wrongful discrimination - discrimination against certain "protected classes" of individuals - by private as well as public actors.
Many anti-discrimination laws govern employment, both public and private, but anti-discrimination laws govern other spheres of human interaction, including housing and public accommodations. Discrimination in and of itself is not necessarily unlawful. To prove unlawful discrimination, a person must show that a discriminatory action bears a causal relationship to his or her membership in a "protected class." Common protected classes are race, sex, religion, age, ethnic origin, and disability. Certain laws protect other classes. For instance, the Portland City Code protects persons from sexual orientation discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
With regard to public actors such as the federal government, states, counties, and cities, citizens enjoy protection from denial of constitutional rights. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association. The United States Constitution also guarantees citizens equal protection of the laws.
My civil rights practice primarily centers around employment, but I handle other civil rights matters, including claims of discrimination in public housing and denial of constitutional rights. I litigate cases both on an individual and on a class basis.