Founded in the fall of 2001 on the initiative of local attorney Breean Beggs, the Whatcom Civil Rights Project (WCRP) is a joint endeavor of LAW Advocates, the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, and Fairhaven College, Western Washington University. Working in conjunction with a network of local attorneys, WCRP provides legal assistance and advocacy to victims of discrimination and civil rights abuse in Whatcom County.
Whatcom Human Rights Taskforce volunteers assist in the intake interviews. They serve as advocates for the victims of alleged civil rights violations and help to provide the victims with non-legal resources. To serve as a volunteer, one must attend a one-time two-hour training (usually offered each quarter).
*Civil Rights Legal Research Tips *[LINKS to descriptions below]
Look up the Web sites of federal, state, municipal and private agencies that enforce civil rights laws. These Web sites often have the laws explained in terms that are easy to understand, describe exactly how to file a complaint (and how long you have to file it), and list links to other useful Web sites.
Use a library and ASK A LIBRARIAN to help you.
Washington State Human Rights Commission Enforces the Law Against Discrimination (RCW 49.60). The Commission works to prevent and eliminate discrimination by investigating human rights complaints and providing education and training opportunities throughout the state.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Any individual who believes he or she has been discriminated against in employment may file an administrative charge with the EEOC.
1801 L Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20507
Federal Office Phone: (202) 663-4900
Seattle District Office Phone: (206)-220-6883
The Administrative Office Of The Courts (Washington)
1206 Quince Street SE P.O. Box 41170 Olympia, WA 98504-1170
(Website includes many forms and instructions on how to fill them out)
Phone: (360) 753-3365
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington works in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country.
705 Second Avenue, Suite 300, Seattle, WA 98104
Administrative Telephone: (206) 624-2184
Complaint and Referral Line: (206) 624-2180
Northwest Women's Law Center
Advances women's legal rights throughout the Northwest through litigation, legislative advocacy, and their self help program, which provides legal information and referral services and materials to help women help themselves with legal problems.
3161 Elliott Av., Ste. 101 Seattle, WA 98121
Whatcom County District Court
311 Grand Avenue, Suite 401, Bellingham, WA 98225
Phone: (360) 676-6770
Whatcom County Public Defenders
County Courthouse, Suite 304 Bellingham, Washington 98225
Northwest Justice Project
Not-for-profit statewide organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income people.
1814 Cornwall Avenue Bellingham, WA 98225
Lummi Victims of Crime Program
Provides 24-hour assistance to tribal members who are victims of crime.
Phone: (360) 384-2285.
- Who committed the discrimination? (Government, business, private individual?)
- How do you know that the discrimination was based on your protected characteristic (such as race or gender) or legally protected conduct (such as free speech) rather than the person just not liking you?
- Where was the discrimination committed? (country, state, county and city?)
- When was the discrimination committed?
- What proof do you have that the discrimination occurred? (witnesses? documents?)
- What harm was done to you? (lost a job, emotional distress, etc.?)
- Which specific law (constitution, statute, regulation, etc.) forbids this type of discriminatory behavior?
- What remedies does this law allow? (can you sue for money, an injunction, etc.?)
- What is the statute of limitations for this law? (how long do you have to make a complaint or file a lawsuit?)
- Is there an agency that enforces this specific law?
The Whatcom Civil Rights Project (WCRP) is a joint endeavor of LAW Advocates, the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, and Fairhaven College, Western Washington University. Working in conjunction with a network of local attorneys, WCRP provides legal assistance and advocacy to victims of discrimination in Whatcom County (and sometimes neighboring counties). By actively pursuing legal avenues to combat hate and intolerance, WCRP brings justice to those who have been victimized and acts as a deterrent to further acts of discrimination.
We conduct intake interviews with victims of civil rights violation to see if it is the kind of case that the WCRP will take. Civil rights violations may include discrimination based on a legally protected characteristic such as race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, familial status, marital status and/or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or legally protected conduct (such as free speech).
In general we do not handle cases involving criminal prosecutions, traffic violations, divorce or child custody, landlord-tenant disputes, or wills.
We are run entirely by volunteers, so please set your expectations accordingly. WCRP Students and Volunteers conduct intake interviews and then present the case at an Attorney Review Panel to see if WCRP can take the case (depending on when the next panel is held, this may take a month or longer). Please note that until you and an attorney have signed a retainer agreement, the WCRP does NOT represent you (and you are advised to keep looking for an attorney). Although there are numerous legitimate and important cases, we can only represent a limited number of them.
Opportunity Council Community Resource Center
A local Community Action Agency serving homeless and low-income families, children, seniors and people with disabilities.
314 E. Holly St. Bellingham, WA 98225
Phone: (360) 734-5121 ext. 370
LAW Advocates (LAWS)
Provides civil legal assistance and access to justice for Whatcom County residents who are unable to afford them, including family law assistance for victims of domestic violence.
Phone: (360) 671-6079
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Provides legal representation and community education to low-income refugees and immigrants in Washington State.
Phone (206) 587-4009