Sue a City

How Do I Sue a City for Harassment?


City officials are meant to work for the people in such a way that benefits and protects the citizens’ wellbeing. Whether they work for law enforcement, public health, or environmental beautification and maintenance, the job of a city official is to enhance the lives of those living in their municipality in more ways than one. Things can go awry quite quickly if an employee of a city steps outside of their job duties, primarily if those breaches of duty result in harassment toward a civilian. If you have been the victim of harassment by the hand of an employee of your city, with the help of an experienced NYC civil rights attorney at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, & Green it is within your legal rights to file a lawsuit for compensation.

How to File a Lawsuit Against a City

Filing suit against any city official, whether they be an employee of the parks and recreation department or an elected politician, is a difficult task to accomplish. You’ll soon find that each state has in place some form of immunity for government employees, protecting them from the possibility of being sued (in limited types of cases). However, such statutes can be bypassed by something called “waived immunity,” where a government forfeits their protection against lawsuits and voluntarily allows itself to be sued. These circumstances often occur in combination with strict notice and procedural requirements, however. 

The first thing you must do when filing a lawsuit against a city is to discuss the issue with the offender. Though this is quite uncomfortable to do, this is one of the best ways to ensure the harassment stops. In a legal context, this will also strengthen your case for the future, as you provided the individual with notice as to the harm their behavior has caused. You can later include documentation of this interaction in your lawsuit, since it will be your responsibility, as the claimant, to prove the behavior was unwanted. (Keep this in mind, especially if the act does not stop after you have spoken with the offender.)

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If you are also an employee of the city, consider filing a complaint with the company that you and the offender work for. Review the protocol for such instances in your employee handbook or seek assistance from Human Resources to complete an internal complaint. Finally, you can file a lawsuit with your state. Before you file a harassment lawsuit under federal law, you are required to file an administrative charge with a state agency, ideally, the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

Additional Details to Consider When Filing a Lawsuit Against a City

The procedures by which you are legally allowed to sue a city may vary according to the municipality. Check with your local government on how to pursue legal action following harassment. Typically, you are required to file a claim within 30-180 days, depending on the event. Again, you will have to check with your city government to determine the timeline in which you must file your claim. They will also inform you of the information that must be included in your case, and how long they will take to issue a denial or an investigation.

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