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Civil Rights

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Gonzales & Poirier, PLLC serves as a voice for victims of discrimination, abuse of power, and negligence, but most importantly, we stand up for those that cannot fight for themselves.

The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier is committed to justice for all people. Our firm serves as a voice for victims of discrimination, abuse of power and negligence. We give hope to the disenfranchised that have little expectation of justice by giving them access to quality legal representation. Most importantly, we stand up for those that cannot fight for themselves.

Justice for All:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) prohibits discrimination, including harassment and retaliation, based on race, sex, color, religion, and national origin. Specifically, Section 703(A) made it unlawful for any employer to “fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions
or privileges or employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” In addition, Title 42, Section 1983, of the United States Code, provides that it is illegal for a police officer to deny the Constitutional or federal rights of any person. A police officer’s responsibility is to uphold the law and protect individual’s civil rights.

The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier take cases involving civil rights violations and police misconduct seriously. Our experienced attorneys stand up to government, especially when one’s rights are being violated. There are many variations of civil rights cases. These cases involve police misconduct, employment discrimination, violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and violations of the First Amendment (freedom of speech and religion), Fourth Amendment (right against searches and seizures), Eighth Amendment (right against cruel and unusual punishment) and Fourteenth Amendment (rights to due process and equal protection).

Police Misconduct involves cases of excessive police force, unjustified deadly, negligent use of police dogs, false arrest or detention, racial profiling, and jail abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, Arizona has had its fair share of police misconduct or abuse. The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier have had a multitude of cases involving police misconduct. Most recently, our firm has handled cases of false arrest, racial profiling and false detention. We have been successful in receiving settlements prior to litigation.

Civil Rights Violations & Police Misconduct

Employment Discrimination cases in Arizona are governed under the Arizona Civil Rights Act, which provides that it is unlawful to discriminate against any individual because of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin or disability. This Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Discrimination includes the following:

  1. Failing to hire individuals or promote individuals for discriminatory reasons.
  2. Firing or demoting individuals for discriminatory reasons.
  3. Providing an individual with different pay, benefits, or other terms and conditions of employment.
  4. Segregating workers based on protected characteristics like race or gender.
  5. Sexual harassment, hostile work environment or harassment.
  6. Engaging in or tolerating harassment because of race, color, national origin, religion, age or disability.
  7. Pregnancy discrimination.
  8. Failing to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled individuals.
  9. Failing to make corrections when harassment or retaliation are reported.
  10. Treating employees differently or retaliating against such employees because they have complained about discrimination.

Violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. To be protected under this Act, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. A person is considered to have a disability with they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

The First Amendment protects our freedom of speech. Citizens of the United States may freely express any belief or idea, even if controversial or unpopular. The First Amendment also protects our religious practices. Our freedom of speech is only limited in certain instances such as speech that provokes imminent unlawful activities, slander, speech that is obscene or considered to be a hate crime. The attorneys at the Law Office of Gonzales & Poirier defend the First Amendment with vigor and zealousness. We believe that the First Amendment is the cornerstone to our freedom.

The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures, requiring that law enforcement obtain consent from the person to be searched, or a warrant supported by probable cause. Such warrants need to particularly describe the place to be searched, and persons and property to be seized. Should law enforcement fail to obtain consent or a valid warrant, all evidence obtained by the search may be excluded under the exclusionary rule. The Fourth Amendment also protects individuals against arrest if the officer does not have probable cause. However, when an officer has “articulable suspicion” that crime is underway, the officer may investigate by stopping the individual for a short time and may frisk the person for weapons. This is known as a Terry Stop. Moreover, an officer does not violate the Fourth Amendment by merely approaching individuals on the street or in other public places and asking questions if these individuals are willing to listen.

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment for federal crimes. The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars States from inflicting such cruel and unusual punishment for State crimes. The US Supreme Court has held that excessive physical force against prisoners may constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

The Fourteenth Amendment sets forth the due process and equal protection clause. The due process clause provides that no state shall make or enforce any law which deprives person of life, liberty or property without due process of law. The due process clause also makes the Bill of Rights applicable to states. When states may substantive laws or regulations, the Fourteenth Amendment may invalidate such laws under the doctrine of substantive due process. The Fourteenth Amendment also prohibits states from denying any person the equal protection of the laws. In essence, states cannot treat similar situated people differently. This applies to sex, alienage, illegitimacy, wealth, or other characteristics.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of police misconduct or a civil rights violation, call the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier today at (928) 774-5400. You may also email us at, or message us from our website at We handle cases in Flagstaff, Holbrook, Winslow, Williams, Sedona, Cottonwood, Prescott and other parts of the State. Our initial consultation is free.

A lot of law firms might claim to fight for your civil rights but we actually do represent citizens whose rights have been violated by the government. Here is a small example of our prior case involvement, as reported by the Arizona Daily Sun and the Arizona Republic:

Title: So. Beaver lawyer cites racism, to read the article click here.

Title: 4 schools to close, to read the article click here.

Title: Suit likely if South Beaver closed, to read the article click here.

Title: FUSD set to vote on school closure, to read the article click here.

Title: Flagstaff smoke shops continue smoke-free, to read the article click here.

Title: Parents, teachers, students and administrators may learn Tuesday evening which schools the Flagstaff Unified School District plans to close, to read the article click here.

Bully Picking On Kid at School

Arizona Bullying Law

Bully Picking On Kid at School

If your child is being bullied at school, don’t sit back and wait for teachers or the kids to sort it out. Take legal action and put an end to your child’s torment immediately.

Schoolteachers, administrators and parents often ignore bullying. It is often seen as a rite of passage, harmless pranks, and kids being kids. Furthermore, bullying is not gender specific. Children are often reluctant to tell teachers or parents about bullying for many reasons.

School Bullying

Often the child does not seek assistance because they want to handle it on their own, they do not want repercussion of being a tattletale, and they feel like nobody cares and/or they feel that the adult figure will reject them as weak. However, schools and parents should take bullying seriously because it can have negative side effects. Countless studies have shown that bullying can lead to negative emotional and psychological problems that progress to adulthood. Furthermore, bullying can lead to self-destructive behavior such as depression, running away from home, self-harm and suicide.

Bullying is defined as aggressive, unwanted behavior among children involving either a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior must be aggressive and include an imbalance of power and repetition. An imbalance of power includes physical strength or popularity, which is used to control or harm others. Repetition means that the bullying behavior occurs more than once and has the potential of occurring again.

Bullying includes but is not limited to these situations:

  • verbal bullying, such as name calling and threats;
  • social bullying, such as attacking a child’s reputation with rumors; and,
  • physical bullying includes physically injuring a child.

Bullying can occur anywhere but most reported incident of bullying occurs during school and before and after school. In the past, children could avoid bullying by going home and avoiding places and situations where bullies tend to congregate. However, technology has changed how and where bullying occurs. In the past, bullying was isolated to places like school, playground, the bus and travelling to and from school. Now bullies are using technology. Bullies will harass, intimidate and embarrass children using instant message, text messages, email, picture messages, videos and social media. The use of technology to bully is called cyber bullying.

Cyber bullying is much different from direct bullying. Cyber bullying and bullying usually occur hand in hand. However, what makes cyber bullying different is that it can occur at anytime. Traditional bullying tends to happen at specific places, such as school, the bus or the mall. Cyber bullies cans use technology to harass attack and embarrass a child at all times of day. Furthermore, the cyber bullies is usually anonymous and the message, picture or video can be distributed quickly and can be difficult to delete once posted. Cyber bullying is different from traditional bullying because a child can feel that they have nowhere to retreat and feel safe.

In a national survey over 4,080,879 children admit to being victims of bullying and 3,892,199 children admit to bullying. While 56%, of children have experienced or witnesses some form of bullying in school and 90% of children between 4th and 8th grade report being a victim of bullying. In Arizona, a survey of almost 1 million children between the ages of 5 through 18 revealed that 90,000 children reported being the victims of bullies and 71,000 reported being bullies.

If you believe bullies are targeting your child, the best thing to do is to talk and support your child. The next thing to do is bring the situation to the attention of the school administration and show a commitment of ending the bullying. Arizona does have an anti-bullying law that directs schools to create policies to prevent bullying. Under, A.R.S. § 15-341.37 states the school district needs to:

Prescribe and enforce policies and procedures to prohibit pupils from harassing, intimidating and bullying other pupils on school grounds, on school property, on school buses, at school bus stops, at school sponsored events and activities and through the use of electronic technology or electronic communication on school computers, networks, forums and mailing lists that include the following components:

A procedure for pupils, parents and school district employees to confidentially report to school officials incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying. The school shall make available written forms designed to provide a full and detailed description of the incident and any other relevant information about the incident.

A requirement that school district employees report in writing suspected incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying to the appropriate school official and a description of appropriate disciplinary procedures for employees who fail to report suspected incidents that are known to the employee.

A requirement that, at the beginning of each school year, school officials provide all pupils with a written copy of the rights, protections and support services available to a pupil who is an alleged victim of an incident reported pursuant to this paragraph.

If an incident is reported pursuant to this paragraph, a requirement that school officials provide a pupil who is an alleged victim of the incident with a written copy of the rights, protections and support services available to that pupil.

A formal process for the documentation of reported incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying and for the confidentiality, maintenance and disposition of this documentation. School districts shall maintain documentation of all incidents reported pursuant to this paragraph for at least six years. The school shall not use that documentation to impose disciplinary action unless the appropriate school official has investigated and determined that the reported incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying occurred. If a school provides documentation of reported incidents to persons other than school officials or law enforcement, all individually identifiable information shall be redacted.

A formal process for the investigation by the appropriate school officials of suspected incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying, including procedures for notifying the alleged victim on completion and disposition of the investigation.

Disciplinary procedures for pupils who have admitted or been found to have committed incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying.

A procedure that sets forth consequences for submitting false reports of incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying.

Procedures designed to protect the health and safety of pupils who are physically harmed as the result of incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying, including, if appropriate, procedures to contact emergency medical services or law enforcement agencies, or both.

Definitions of harassment, intimidation and bullying

Furthermore, Arizona statute A.R.S. 15-341(A) (12) and (13) require that the school board hold children responsible for disorderly conduct to and from school and on school property.

These laws make it the responsibility of the school district’s administrators, employees, staff and teachers to make a safe environment for your child. The schools are required to protect their students from bullies and provide proper supervision during the school day. If your child is a victim of bullying and the school has not responded to your demands, you may need to talk to an attorney. A legal action may be initiated to force the school district to address and take action on bullying issues.

Contact the Law Office of Gonzales and Poirier at 928-774-5400 for a free consultation. Depending on the facts of your case, our attorneys can discuss your rights, legal remedies and how to best protect your child from bullying. We have convenient offices located in Flagstaff and Cottonwood, Arizona. We have experience dealing with school boards and districts throughout Northern Arizona.


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