Civil Rights & Constitutional Law
We live in a society that is governed by rules and laws that are meant to apply to all of us, even the government officials who are charged with enforcing or carrying out the laws. Unfortunately, and all too often, government representatives – police officers, school district officials, or other government officials who have been given authority over our lives – are fallible and can be driven to abuse their authority and power. They might deny your rights for arbitrary or discriminatory reasons, or they might have been offended when you pointed out their misconduct or mistakes. Sadly, they might simply be bad people who are ready to victimize those over whom they have authority.
This victimization can take place on the job, in our schools or on our streets. It can take place if a government official wrongly denies a license or permit, or takes action to deprive you of your professional license or certification. It might happen when a supervisor threatens an employee’s job, or harasses an employee whom they supervise. It can also happen if school administrators retaliate against parents who have tried to secure rights for their children.
Some government representatives have the power to disrupt a family’s life and interfere with a parent’s relationship with their children.
Police officers may abuse their authority by carrying out personal vendettas, making false arrests, or in the worst cases, use excessive force in a situation that calls for no force.
A person who is a victim of abuse of government power does have rights.
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution provides certain rights and freedoms to citizens including the freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition. The Fourteenth Constitutional Amendment provides due process of the law and equal protection under the law. Despite the rights and protections afforded under these Constitutional Amendments, certain individuals continue to suffer adverse actions at the hands of their employers, the government, law enforcement and other powerful entities.
Old Russ Marquette & Peace, LLC provides experienced legal counseling to people who face various civil rights violations and constitutional cases.
Working as a team, our lawyers have achieved an impressive record of results on behalf of our clients. A few examples include:
Upon receipt of a report of suspected abuse or neglect, Child Welfare Services routinely tries to limit parents’ custody of their children or remove children from the home. Our cases have established that these deprivations cannot occur without a hearing.
- We represented a mother whose daughter was removed by Child Welfare Services and transferred to the father without a hearing. We established that Child Welfare Services violated mother’s procedural due process rights by depriving her of a hearing. Usually, the hearing must be provided within three days.We represented a father whose ex-spouse utilized the Child Welfare Services to interfere with his custodial rights by filing false reports of abuse. In this parental alienation case, we asserted that the policy of Child Welfare Services to interfere with custody cases, have ex parte contact with judges, or to stop a parent’s custody rights violated parent’s substantive due process rights.
- We have represented landowners who believed the local borough was selectively enforcing its building codes and issuing occupancy permits in an arbitrary manner. We argued that such actions were a denial of equal protection of the laws and interfered with our clients’ use and enjoyment of their property.
False Arrest and Malicious Prosecution
- We represented a community activist who was subjected to several arrests after she made complaints of police misconduct. We argued that the arrests were made without probable cause and violated the client’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful arrests.
Rights of Government Employees
- We represented a school district employee who was subject to retaliation because he opposed the racial discrimination suffered by African-American employees. Our client, who was Caucasian, was constructively discharged. We were able to establish to a jury that his treatment was retaliatory and secured a verdict for compensatory and punitive damages.
- We represented an athletic coach at a university who was sexually harassed by the athletic director. We filed claims against the university under Title IX of the Education Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. We were able to convince the university that the athletic director had violated these statutes.
- We represented a school district employee who was a victim of age discrimination and retaliation for having made claims of poor treatment due to his age. A jury awarded compensatory and punitive damages in our client’s favor.
- We filed a lawsuit on behalf of a schoolteacher, who was a victim of retaliation, because she advised her principal that several young students were in need of testing under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 Plans. It is illegal for a school district to retaliate against faculty members who speak up for children with special needs.
- We filed a lawsuit on behalf of male teacher who complained that he was denied promotional opportunities due to his gender. When he filed charges of discrimination, he was subject to retaliation. Employers may not retaliate against employees who oppose discrimination.
- We represented two young female students who had been sexually molested by a faculty member. The faculty member was exposed, arrested and sentenced. We represented the girls in claims against the school district, asserting that the school district was aware of the faculty member’s proclivity towards molesting young female students and recklessly indifferent to that risk.
- We represented a young girl who had been sexually assaulted by another student. After her mother reported the assault to the school, nothing was done. We asserted that our client’s rights under Title IX of the Education Act to be free from sexual harassment from other students was violated, and established that the principal was recklessly indifferent to the plight of our client.
Olds Russ Marquette & Peace, LLC is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the North Hills section of Allegheny County. The firm provides representation to clients in nearby communities such as Etna, Shaler, Allison Park, Westview, Glenshaw, Gibsonia, and Wexford, as well as clients throughout Western Pennsylvania.