Civil Rights & Environment
Every individual deserves equal treatment under the law. Jill Silverstein fights against actions by state and local government agencies that discriminate against individuals or engage in practices that cause a disparate impact or unequal treatment of individuals or neighborhoods in your community. Whether representing an individual or citizens group, Jill will stand up for your rights against government agencies or private business.
In your community, Jill represents individuals who were victims of unequal treatment, false arrest, or use of excessive force by the police, and Jill fights against the selective enforcement of environmental laws and regulations that negatively impacted neighborhoods and communities. Jill represents individuals who have been treated differently than others because of their race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, disability or age.
If you live in the United States, as a citizen, immigrant, refugee or undocumented worker, you are entitled to basic right to be free from unequal treatment under the law based upon your race, gender, age, disability, national origin or religion. A state agency or local government cannot impose greater restrictions on you or require additional qualifications, documentation or tasks on you because of these characteristics. It is against the law.
You are entitled to procedural protection of due process of law regardless of whether you are a U.S. citizen or immigrant residing within the United States in a temporary or permanent, lawful or unlawful capacity. Due process of law under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution prohibit the government from depriving individuals of basic constitutional rights without providing fair legal proceedings that include reasonable notice of the proceeding and an opportunity to be heard.
Statutes Prohibit Discrimination and Protect Civil Rights
In addition to the Constitution, there are statutes that specifically protect the civil rights of individuals. Sections 1981 and 1983 or Title 42 were enacted after the Civil War to specifically protect individuals against discrimination or unequal treatment and provide a right of action against local and state governments. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in the workplace, and it applies to private employers and federal, state and local governments.
Section VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also extended prohibitions against discrimination on basis of race, color and national origin in programs and activities that receive federal funding. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act states:
No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
The programs and activities that receive financial assistance from the federal government include, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education. Permitting business activities or local agency action that negatively impacts the health or environment of you or your community because of your race, color or national origin is against the law.
The National Environmental Protection Act requires federal agencies to consider environmental justice in activities that are supported by federal financial assistance. NEPA set forth a review process for all federal agencies, and was reinforced by the 1994 Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations” that directed federal agencies to “make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.” (Executive Order 12898, February 2014). Sometimes referred to “Not in my Backyard”, the combination of federal statutes and executive order provides the tools for you, your community or citizens groups to achieve environmental justice.
Examples of problems you and your community may face related to environmental justice concerns include:
- Permit allowing location of waste repository in your community that will have disproportionate negative environmental impact on minority or immigrant community with excessive air pollution, or dumping pollutants into soil or waterways
- Transportation routes negatively impact neighborhood with increased air pollution and division of community by truck routes
- Low-income minority community located on or near site of toxic waste or hazardous facility
- Workplace contains hazardous conditions such as no ventilation and poor lighting imposes disproportionate health hazard on immigrant workers
- Failure of business to follow environmental regulation in the disposal of hazardous waste or pollutants released beyond permissible rates
- If you report violations of any of the environmental protection laws – such as regulations promulgated by the EPA or OSHA – and your fired by your employer for reporting these violations, you may also have a whistleblower claim for wrongful termination