US Commission on Civil Rights

Public Education Campaign to End Campus Anti-Semitism
 

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WHAT LEGAL ACTION MAY YOU TAKE IF YOU EXPERIENCE RETALIATION FOR REPORTING AN ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENT?

Retaliation for filing a civil rights complaint or for seeking redress for a violation of a constitutional right may constitute a further civil rights violation. The U. S. Supreme Court has defined retaliation as “an intentional act. It is a form of ‘discrimination’ because the complainant is subjected to differential treatment.”[1] If you or someone on your campus has been retaliated against for reporting an anti-Semitic incident on campus, you may wish to notify your campus administration, campus police department, local police department, local and state civil rights agencies, private organizations, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the U.S. Department of Education  Office for Civil Rights, and/or the U.S. Department of Justice  Civil Rights Division  Educational Opportunities Section without delay. You may also wish to seek the advice of an attorney or local legal services provider. 

It is important to remember that the Office for Civil Rights’ jurisdiction is based on ancestry or ethnic characteristics, since it does not have jurisdiction to investigate claims of religious discrimination per se. Hon. Stephanie Monroe, Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, has recently stated that the Office for Civil Rights will not investigate allegations of anti-Semitic harassment unless the allegations also include other forms of discrimination over which the Office for Civil Rights has subject matter jurisdiction.  

Depending on the harm you have suffered through the retaliation and who has retaliated against you, the type of private lawsuit you may be able to initiate will vary. 

  • If the perpetrator is another student, then you may be entitled to relief under tort law 

     
  • If the perpetrator is staff or faculty, and you attend a public institution, then you may be entitled to relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, commonly referred to as section 1983. Section 1983 provides for a private right of action against state actors. Thus, it will be necessary to determine if those who have retaliated against you are deemed state actors. An attorney or local legal services provider can help you understand if section 1983 applies to your case

 

The U.S. Department of Education  states that an academic institution under its jurisdiction may not intimidate, threaten, coerce, or retaliate against anyone who asserts a right protected by the civil rights laws the Office for Civil Rights enforces, or who cooperates in an investigation.

 Do not suffer anti-Semitism on your campus in silence


[1] FINDLAW, “Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education,” http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=02-1672 (last accessed Sep. 28, 2006).