What does it means to you to fight for civil rights and discrimination?
Fighting for civil rights means EVERYTHING to me. I was born on a Plantation in the Mississippi Delta. There cotton was king, and civil rights did not exist. My family was sharecroppers, and we suffered many indignities because we were members of a minority class.
I witnessed a highway patrolman follow my sister’s African American, teenage boyfriend to our house on the plantation. I witnessed him pull our friend from the driver’s seat of his car, and proceed to beat him severely. I watched as my stepfather, a black man, stood in fear for his own life as he tried to ask the white patrolman what this was all about. I heard the white patrolman say to him “boy if you want to live, you will stay on that porch and mind your own business”. I stood in fear for all of us, and in shame that we could do NOTHING! I still recall that feeling to this day.
I watched my stepfather turn to alcohol for false hope and consolation; I witnessed him take out his frustrations on my mother, through acts of violence and rage. I later watched my mother turn to alcohol as a source of comfort.
Nonetheless, I grew up with a belief, planted in me by my mother – who was 18 years old when I was born – that I would and could make a difference in my life and the lives of others. She said that I could accomplish this through education and hard work.
Every day of my life I recall the personal indignities of my past, and the salvation of a mother who had faith in me. However, today, through my many years as a prosecutor and many positive experiences with law enforcement, I know that the one officer from my childhood does not represent the great majority of the members of law enforcement who are honorable and caring. Most importantly, my years as a prosecutor allowed me to fight for the right of those who had no voice – the victims. Now, I am fortunately able to continue my fight for equality as a Civil Rights Attorney.
What cases would you say made the biggest impact on the community? Please give examples and case scenarios and how you were involved from beginning to end.
As a Civil Litigator one of the major cases I litigated involved a hangman’s noose being prominently displayed in the warehouse where mostly African American males worked. The employer had a long history of subjecting their employees to racial harassment. I took the deposition of the manager who displayed the hangman’s noose. Based on admissions he made during his deposition, the case settled for millions of dollars.
Another of my civil case involved disability discrimination against a transgender employee, who had been employed by his employer for only a few months when he was terminated. After amending the Department of Fair Employment Complaint, and securing damaging evidence of document falsification by the employer, the case settled for a sum much larger than the employer initially proposed.
During my years as a prosecutor I successfully prosecuted many, many cases. Among them were these: (1) a homicide case were a teenage mother was shot by her estranged boyfriend – who stalked her throughout the night- while their baby was a few feet away from her in a walker. I took over this case from another prosecutor after it had languished for a couple of years; consequently the victim’s family suffered from a lack of faith in the legal system. I was able to reach out to them and to restore their confidence in my intentions to treat them and the memory of their loved one with the respect they deserved. The jury returned a first degree murder conviction after less than an hour of deliberations. For years after the case was over, I continued my contact with the family of the deceased victim. (2) A rape case involving an epileptic homeless woman, who was new to San Francisco. Many of the prosecutors in my officer described her case as hopeless. They felt that she was “a homeless woman” who no one really cared about. This rape victim walked to court in the pouring rain to testify before the jury, resulting in the defendant being convicted of all the counts presented to them – including, rape, assault and burglary. (3) A case involving a domestic violence victim who was beat, and stomped by her boyfriend. During the pendency of the case, the victim reconciled with the defendant; and, unbeknown to me she was sending him love letter while he awaited trail in the jail. I was shocked and surprised when the Defense introduced the letters into evidence in front of the jury. I persevered, nonetheless, and through the presentation of expert testimony on the “battered women syndrome” and other evidence, I secured a guilty verdict in spite of the love letters.
Is there a way to help prevent civil rights discrimination?
Perseverance through righteous litigation, legislation and social activism.
What are the steps you should take if you feel that you civil rights were violated?
You should also know that you have a LIMITED TIME PERIOD TO BRING YOUR CLAIM OF HARASSMENT/DISCRIMINATION/RETALAIATION. In most situations you have approximately one year to file a formal complaint with the appropriate governmental agency from the date of the last violation. Your complaint must be filed with The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), within 300 days of the last violation or Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), within 365 days. You cannot sue your employer in court until and unless you have filed this complaint. Also, note that although harassment may be continuous, once an employee should know that his or her complaints are futile, the one year or 300 day statute of limitations for filing with the State or Federal Government begins to run. The Law Office of Murlene J .Randle can help you with this process. Getting a law firm involved early is often the best course of action. After filing this formal complaint with the government, you or your legal representatives may obtain a "Right to Sue" letter, which is necessary before being able to file a complaint in the court system.
You should immediately contact The Law Offices of Murlene Randle if you think you are a victim of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation. This conduct is not tolerated by our society and the lawyers at The Law Offices of Murlene Randle are passionate about protecting the rights of anyone that is being treated differently or unfairly because they may be perceived as "different" by others. We will zealously seek damages against those responsible to see to it that the contact is stopped and that you are compensated for what you have been forced to endure. Contact The Law Offices of Murlene J. Randle today for a free evaluation and to speak to one a qualified attorney.
Who is liable for a discrimination case?
An individual or a group of individuals can be responsible for harassing and discriminating against co-workers that are perceived as different. In some instances, your company can be held responsible for allowing this type of conduct to continue.
Companies are liable for harassment that they know or should have known about. Under California law, an employer has an affirmative obligation to take all steps necessary to prevent harassment from occurring. Usually, this takes the form of an anti-discrimination and harassment policy and/or training. These are often contained in a company handbook or orientation packet. If an employer does not have a policy or program designed to prevent harassment, they may be held liable for failing to take steps to prevent harassment from occurring.
Companies function through employees, supervisors and managers. If an employee, not a supervisor, engages in harassment, the company must have actual knowledge of the harassment before it can be held liable for damages. Therefore, before liability can attach to your company in a co-worker/co-worker situation, the conduct must be so open and obvious that your company should have known about it; or your company had actual knowledge of the conduct because it was reported to management or the human resources department.
Company knowledge is required because the law wants to provide a business protection from conduct that it does not know about. The law wants to give the company a chance to remedy the conduct once it finds out about it. If the company is knowledgeable of the conduct due to its obvious nature, or because of a complaint, the company must take prompt and sufficient remedial measures to try and stop further harassment from occurring. If nothing is done by the company, or too little is done, and the conduct happens again, the company may be liable for the co-worker’s conduct.
If the harassing conduct is engaged in by a supervisor, foreperson, manager, owner, officer or director of the company the company is automatically liable for any unlawful harassment. This is because the company’s eyes and ears are its supervisors and managers. If they engage in unlawful conduct, it is presumed that the company knows about it.
What is the expected procedure for a discrimination case once I decide to get a lawyer?
As stated above, getting a law firm involved early is often the best course of action. After filing a formal complaint with the government, (described above). You or your legal representatives may obtain a "Right to Sue" letter, which is necessary before being able to file a complaint in the court system. Once the “Right to Sue letter is obtained, the attorney will work with you to gather all the necessary information and documents for the preparation of a civil complaint. This complaint may be filed in either State Court or Federal Court, depending of the unique facts and circumstances of your case. Once a complaint is file the litigation process begins. Your attorney will be your representative throughout these proceedings.
What are the ramifications that I could expect from filing a discrimination against someone?
Such as an employer, boss, business? The law protects you from retaliatory actions from your company, boss or business, once you have filed a discrimination claim against a co-worker or your company. You cannot be fired, harassed or discriminated against based solely on the fact that you filed such a claim.