Can I sue ex for racism and discrimination towards me?

She sents me text messages criticize my religion and race. Can i sue her for those?
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Christine McCall
Pasadena, California
Employee Law

Specializing in administrative law: occupational licensing (license discipline defense and denials); ABC permits. Also, limited role representation re defending contempt proceedings.

It is not a crime to hold racist or religious bias, nor even to make (orally or in writing) racist or religiously offensive statements (acting on such views is a whole different issue).

What's more, it is not a compensable wrong for a private individual to discriminate on the basis of race or religion in his or her private affairs.

The discrimination suits that you have heard about are usually against some unit of government (or quasi-government or a government-funded or connected entity). It is a compensable wrong for the government to act -- in virtually any way -- on the basis of race or religion.

It is also a compensable wrong (i.e., a lawsuit for damages may be brought) if individuals discriminate on the basis of race or religion on matters that are not strictly private -- for example, in business or trade, housing, access to services, etc.

None of these theoretical bases encompasses a nasty ex-spouse sending mean text messages personally to you. However, because of the unique character of the relationship between ex-spouses, and particularly where there is the risk of anti-social conduct or conduct damaging to third parties such as children, a court is likely to intervene and issue a restraining order where the interactions between them suggest a genuine risk of harm.

So, you may be successful in requesting a restraining order against your ex to prohibit her interactions with you. However, be prepared for the court to inquire why you don't program your phone to block her texts. Usually, the court will not find it necessary to issue a prohibitive order if there is a straight-forward remedy that does not require judicial action. Have you truly done all that you reasonably can to avoid receiving these offensive texts?  


Greg Freeze
Port Townsend, Washington
Estate, Trust Planning
(541) 997-7787

Greg Freeze is an Olympic Peninsula Attorney. As an attorney in Port Townsend, I specialize in being a general practitioner, operating with the motto, `small town law -- all issues welcome.`

If you mean "sue" as in collect a judgment in a civil suit, not likely. 

If you mean "get the help of the court to make it stop," yes.  If by "ex" you mean ex-spouse, there may be a restraining order in the judgment.  If not, you could get one.  You may need the assistance of an attorney to get one, or you might be able to get through the forms provided by your county. 

If you mean "ex" as in ex-girlfriend, then you could get a restraining order to prevent her from texting you.

Best of luck,

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