In Public Spaces

The NYC Commission on Human Rights protects individuals from discrimination in the area of public accommodations. Anyone who provides goods and services to the general public is considered a public accommodation.

It is against the City Human Rights Law for a public accommodation to withhold or refuse to provide full and equal enjoyment of those goods or services based on the following protected classes under the Law:

  • Age
  • Alienage or Citizenship Status
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Gender Identity
  • Marital or Partnership Status
  • National Origin
  • Pregnancy
  • Race
  • Religion/Creed
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Status as a Veteran or Active Military Service Member

Examples of Public Accommodations:

  • Stores
  • Banks
  • Medical or dental offices
  • Government agencies
  • Hair salons
  • Hospitals
  • Hotels
  • Theaters
  • Restaurants
  • Schools
  • Taxis

Access to Public Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

  • Many people with disabilities may need a reasonable accommodation to safely and independently enter or use a public accommodation.
  • The City Human Rights Law requires that providers make reasonable efforts to grant access and services to all customers.
  • Reasonable accommodation may require a structural change, such as constructing a ramp or providing accessible parking spaces, or it may require a change in policy, such as permitting service animals to accompany a disabled person into a restaurant.

Taxi Riders

  • If a taxi driver refuses to pick you up or discriminates against you based on any of the protected classes under the Human Rights Law, you may file a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights and the Taxi and Limousine Commission by calling 311 or (718) 722-3131. 
  • Note the cab’s medallion number, the driver’s name, license number, the date, location, and time. Also, ask for a receipt since it could support your complaint.


  • It is against the Law to be denied access to a store or refused services based on your membership in a protected class under the Law.
  • A store may reserve the right to inspect your bags, check your bags at the door, or closely observe your conduct in the store in an effort to prevent shoplifting; however, such actions may not be based on a protected class, e.g. race.