A section 1983 action refers to 42 U.S. Code §1983. It provides the right under federal law to sue state employees or any others acting “under color of state law”. Section 1983 is a means to enforce existing civil rights not a creation of new rights. Section 1983 reads as follows:
“Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.”
Examples of a civil rights violation would include cruel and unusual punishment, unreasonable searches and seizures, and freedom of speech. Police misconduct cases such as wrongful detention or excessive force can also be civil rights violations. However, people mistreated due to race, gender, religion or disability is also a form of civil rights violation.
Section 1983 may be right course of action when government officials or even a corporation violates your rights. As always, we recommend that you speak to an attorney that handles cases that deal with your specific problem.