The Commission has the authority to assess fines and obtain cash settlements for those aggrieved by violations of the NYC Human Rights Law. Additional settlements and provisions successfully negotiated by the Commission might also include rehirings, policy changes, and modifications for accessibility. Below you will find a list of selected monthly settlements by the Commission's Law Enforcement Bureau, for Calendar Year 2016.
Design Company Pays $85,000 to Employee and $15,000 in Civil Penalties in Pregnancy Discrimination Case
A former designer filed a complaint against With & Wessel LLC and its owners alleging discrimination on the basis of gender and disability because she had been treated adversely and ultimately terminated because she was pregnant. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau determined that the Respondents had discriminated against Complainant because she was pregnant by removing her from most of her job duties, forcing her to take leave, changing her pay to an hourly rate rather than a salary, and terminating her. The Commission, Complainant and Respondents entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondents to pay the complainant $85,000 in back pay and emotional distress damages; pay a civil penalty of $15,000 to the City of New York; and attend a training on their obligations under the New York City Human Rights Law.
Maintenance Company Pays Emotional Distress Damages and Changes Policies in Sexual Harassment Case
An employee filed a complaint against Pristine Environments, a maintenance company, alleging that her supervisor made remarks about not wanting to work with Dominican employees and sang a sexually explicit song in her presence, creating a gender and national origin-based hostile work environment. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau investigated and reviewed the company’s employee policies. Pristine Environments, the Complainant and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Pristine to pay the complainant $12,500 in emotional distress damages and update its employment policies and procedures to comply with the NYC Human Rights Law.
Food Service Company Overhauls Disability Accommodation Policies, Undergoes Anti-Discrimination Training, and Pays Back-pay and Emotional Distress Damages to Employee After Company Failed to Provide Accommodations to Injured Employee
An employee filed a complaint of disability discrimination against Meal Mart alleging the company failed to accommodate disabilities caused by a workplace accident. She alleged a company manager told her she had to be 100% healthy or could not work in any position. After investigation by the Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau, the Commission, the Complainant and Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Meal Mart to pay the complainant $4000 in back-pay, $4000 in emotional distress damages, significantly overhaul policies on providing reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, post multi-lingual Notices of Rights in the workplace, and undergo anti-discrimination training.
The Commission Requires Respondents to Take Affirmative Measures to Prevent NYC Human Rights Law Violations Even When a Complainant's Case is Dismissed
Even when a complainant's individual case does not lead to a probable cause finding, the Commission's Law Enforcement Bureau ("LEB") often identifies problems with a respondents' NYC Human Rights Law compliance in the course of the investigation. In such cases, the Commission requires the respondents to take various measures to prevent discrimination in the future such as conduct anti-discrimination training, develop new policies, and post notices of rights.
For example, in the course of investigating hostile work environment allegations, LEB identified that a small employer lacked policies to appropriately handle requests for reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. In September 2016 the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement with the respondent employer requiring that the respondent undergo anti-discrimination training provided by the Commission, establish policies to ensure compliance with the NYC Human Rights Law, and to publicly post and distribute the new policies.
In another recent example from October 2016, in the course of investigating an allegation that a place of public accommodation denied service to a patron accompanied by a service animal, the complainant ultimately declined to cooperate with the investigation. However, the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the respondent to undergo anti-discrimination training and post the Commission's Notice of Rights in a publicly visible location.
Queens Medical Practice Pays $95,000 for Refusing to Accommodate Employee Healing from Surgery
A former employee filed a complaint against a doctor’s office in Flushing, alleging marital status and disability and associational discrimination, because the practice’s president and manager repeatedly refused to give the employee time off to recover from surgery, ultimately demoted her to part-time hours, and fired her when she asked for another disability-related accommodation. The employee also alleged that the president and manager made disparaging remarks about her marital status and refused to let her take her son to the doctor. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) conducted an investigation and found probable cause to believe discrimination occurred. The medical practice and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring that the practice pay $70,000 to the complainant in back pay and emotional distress damages; pay a civil penalty of $25,000 to the City of New York; provide anti-discrimination training to all personnel; update its employment policies and procedures to comply with the NYC Human Rights Law; and display copies of the Commission’s “Notice of Rights” and “Pregnancy and Employment Rights” posters in prominent areas at its place of business.
Bank Settles Race Discrimination Claim by Paying $15,000 in Emotional Distress Damages to Complainant and Conducting Anti-Discrimination Training
An African-American bank teller filed a complaint against her employer alleging, among other claims, that she suffered from a hostile work environment based on race, including being required to monitor other African-American tellers more than tellers of other races. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) conducted an investigation, including a review of the company’s existing policies and procedure to assess overall compliance with the NYC Human Rights Law. The Commission and the company entered into a conciliation agreement requiring payment of $15,000 in emotional distress damages and anti-discrimination training for employees.
Large Housing Provider Opens Gym to Residents with Rent-Regulated Leases, Eliminating Disparate Impact on Older Tenants
A rent-stabilized tenant filed a complaint against her landlord, a large real estate management company, alleging age discrimination because the company opened an exercise room in the building and allowed only market-rate tenants, and not rent-regulated tenants, to use the gym. The tenant claimed that the gym’s usage policy barring rent-regulated tenants had a disparate impact on older residents in the building. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) conducted an investigation, including a review of the building’s and management company’s policies. LEB found that the building’s denial of access to rent-regulated tenants was more likely than not to have a disparate impact on older residents in the building and issued a probable cause determination. The Commission and the Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the management company to charge the same reduced fee per month to all residents, whether market-rate or rent-regulated, for a period of five years; pay the complainant $20,525 in compensatory damages; pay a sum of $40,000 to the City of New York; provide anti-discrimination training to all supervisory level personnel in the complainant’s building as well as all buildings managed by the Respondent; update its employment policies and procedures to comply with the NYC Human Rights Law; display copies of the Commission’s “Fair Housing, It’s the Law” posters in prominent common areas at its places of business, and establish recordkeeping protocols on information regarding access to exercise rooms in other buildings managed by the Respondent.
Large Non-Profit Organization Settles Sexual Harassment Claim with the Commission by Paying $10,000 in Civil Penalties and Creating Policies to Ensure NYCHRL Compliance in Three Jurisdictional Areas
An employee filed a complaint of sexual harassment against her supervisor and the large non-profit organization she worked for, alleging her supervisor had made frequent advances and sexualized comments. The employee also alleged that the organization’s Human Resources personnel tried to dissuade her from making a complaint by intimidating her and her proposed witnesses, and that her supervisor threatened to terminate her after she complained about the harassment. The parties chose to settle privately with the employee with a payment for emotional distress damages. LEB continued the case on behalf of the Commission and the Respondent and the Commission then separately entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the organization to pay $10,000 in civil penalties, conduct anti-discrimination training, establish policies to ensure compliance with the NYCHRL as an employer, housing provider and public accommodation, and to publicly post and distribute the new policies.
Health Care Company Settles Criminal Record Discrimination Claim for $15,500 in Damages to Prospective Employee
A prospective employee filed a complaint against Onward Health Care, an employment company, for not hiring him as a Patient Care Associate because of his criminal record. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) conducted an investigation and determined that the company had not followed the required analysis under the NYCHRL through which the employer must examine a series of factors to determine whether there is a direct relationship between the conviction and the job at issue. The Commission and the company entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the company to pay the complainant $15,500 in damages and to administer anti-discrimination training for employees.
A prospective tenant who received housing assistance through the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) filed a claim against a real estate brokerage firm, alleging source of income discrimination. LEB conducted an investigation and found that a broker had informed the complainant that an apartment was unavailable because the landlord would not accept his HASA voucher. LEB facilitated a conciliation agreement between the parties which required the brokerage firm to make companywide reforms, including revamping their employment, housing and public accommodations policies, training all employees on the City Human Rights Law, and informing the public about their rights under the Law, including adding a webpage to their company website listing their policies concerning the New York City Human Rights Law. In addition, the complainant received $5,000 compensation for emotional distress damages.
Store Settles Disability Accommodation Case Involving Service Dog for $55,000
A member of the public who has disabilities and uses a service dog filed a claim against a public accommodation because staff of the store refused to allow her to shop in the store with her dog. LEB conducted an investigation and issued a finding of probable cause to credit the allegations of discrimination. The Respondent, Complainant and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the Respondent to pay $27,500 in damages to the Complainant, pay $27,500 in civil penalties, attend anti-discrimination training, create a store policy ensuring compliance with the New York City Human Rights Law, and post the policy.