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

ANTI-SEMITISM ON YOUR CAMPUS?

 If you experience anti-Semitism on campus at the hands of another student, staff, or faculty, your federal or state constitutional rights may be infringed upon. This may entitle you to seek legal relief through the filing of a private lawsuit. What legal action you can take will depend on the type of harm you have suffered and who the perpetrator is.   

  • 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. 

To determine which of these or any other legal options are available to you, you may wish to speak with a lawyer or a local legal services provider.     

  • Should you need help retaining a lawyer, you may want to contact your state’s bar association to determine if they have a referral service. To find your state’s bar association, you may wish to visit their Web page, which can usually be found by performing a search using the name of the state followed by “Bar Association.” (For example, in New York, the association is called the “New York State Bar Association.”)

 

  • Many times lawyers or legal services providers offer free or substantially discounted consultations to assess whether you can bring a viable lawsuit in court.

 

  • If your university has a law school, you may also wish to inquire into whether the law school provides free legal services through one of their student-run clinics.