Food Service Company Pays $15,000 in Damages to Settle Race-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim; Employer Also Required to Create Bilingual Employee Handbook
A former employee filed a complaint against a food service company, alleging a hostile work environment based on race, among other claims. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) conducted an investigation, including a review of the employer’s policies. LEB found that the employer did not have adequate policies to allow an employee to report discrimination to its human resources department without involving a supervisor. LEB also found that the company had not adequately informed employees of the company’s anti-discrimination policies because the majority of the employees were Spanish-speakers but the employee handbook was provided only in English. The employer, complainant and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the company to pay $15,000 in emotional distress damages to the complainant, conduct anti-discrimination training for all supervisory personnel, update policies and procedures to comply with the NYCHRL and create a Spanish language version of the updated employee handbook.
Wavecrest Management and Landlord Install Automatic Doors for Tenant with Disability and Pay $31,000 in Damages to the Tenant, $25,000 in Civil Penalties for Failing to Accommodate Complainant
A tenant (“Complainant”) filed a complaint against Wavecrest Management, Senior Living Options and 35th Street Associates (“Respondents”) alleging that they denied her request for automatic doors as a reasonable accommodation for her disability, which required that she use a wheelchair. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau investigated and issued a probable cause determination, finding that the Respondents should have accommodated the tenant. Respondents, the Complainant and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring respondents to pay the complainant $31,000 in emotional distress damages and $25,000 in civil penalties; provide anti-discrimination training to all supervisory personnel (400 employees); develop a reasonable accommodation policy for all buildings; conduct anti-discrimination training for all staff; display copies of the Commission’s Notice of Rights poster in prominent common areas of all its places of business; and notify tenants of their ability to access the automatic doors.
Homecare Company Commits to Training, Policy Review and Monitoring After Receiving Complaint of Employment Discrimination based on Criminal Record
An applicant for a home health aide position filed a complaint against Jewish Home Lifecare, Home Assistance Personnel, Inc. (“HAPI”) alleging employment discrimination based on his criminal record. Complainant’s employment offer was withdrawn after HAPI received a copy of his criminal background check from the New York State Department of Health, which had cleared Complainant’s criminal record. After receiving the complaint, HAPI immediately agreed to bring its hiring policies into line with the Fair Chance Act; train all employees involved in hiring; post the Commission’s Notice of Rights poster; undergo monitoring of its hiring of people with criminal records for 18 months; and pay the Complainant $4,000.
The New School Settles Age and Gender Discrimination Claim for $27,500 and Monitoring of Supervisor Implicated in Claim
An employee (“Complainant”) filed a claim against her employer based on age and gender after her employer re-structured her department and her supervisor recommended that the two female employees be fired and the male employees be retained, stating that the women were not “team players,” but the men were. After investigation, the Law Enforcement Bureau issued a determination of probable cause. The Commission, the Complainant and the Respondent ultimately entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the Respondent to pay the Complainant $27,500 in damages. The agreement also involves monitoring of the individual respondent involved in the case: the New School is required to provide information to the Commission if any other discrimination-related complaint is filed against the individual respondent for a period of three years. In addition, the Respondents’ Human Resources staff will be trained in anti-discrimination law.
Member Brokerage Service Settles Sexual Orientation Discrimination Claim by Paying $37,500 in Damages, Providing Anti-Discrimination Training for Managers and Implementing New Anti-Discrimination Policies
An employee (“Complainant”) filed a claim against Member Brokerage Services (“Respondent”) based on sexual orientation after managers openly questioned other employees about her sexual orientation in an insulting tone and made other derogatory comments about her appearance in reference to her sexual orientation. After investigation by the Law Enforcement Bureau, the Commission, the Complainant and Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the Respondent to pay the Complainant $37,500 in damages, post the Commission’s Notice of Rights posters, train managers and supervisors in anti-discrimination law, and implement new anti-discrimination policies.
Broker Pays $5,000 and Agrees to Conduct Community Service to Resolve Complaint of Discrimination in Housing based on Presence of Children
A tenant filed a complaint of housing discrimination against a broker who, upon finding out that she had a young child, stated that the landlord would be “uncomfortable” with the rental. After investigation, the Commission and the parties entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the respondent to pay $5000 in emotional distress damages to the Complainant, undergo training on the NYCHRL, conduct 40 hours of community service, and institute a new policy to provide information on rights under the NYCHRL in all tenant applications and lease renewals.
See AM New York article: “Queens broker denied apartment to mom with toddler, CCHR says”
Parkchester Housing Complex Pays over $100,000 in Damages and Civil Penalties for Pattern and Practice Violation of Refusing to Allow Tenants with Disabilities to Have Emotional Support Animals
A resident filed a complaint against Respondents Parkchester Preservation Management and Parkchester South Condominium, Inc. alleging that they discriminated against her on the basis of disability by denying her the reasonable accommodation being able to keep a dog as an assistance animal. Parkchester is a housing complex of roughly 12,000 apartments in the Bronx that is occupied by a mixture of condominium owners and rental tenants. The complex prohibits animals so people with disabilities who use an assistance animal must request a reasonable accommodation in order to keep an animal. After investigation by the Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”), LEB determined that there was probable cause to credit Complainant’s allegations. LEB also found that Respondents engaged in a pattern or practice of handling reasonable accommodation requests to keep animals in a manner that violates the law, including denying requests, levying fines or even starting evictions when they knew or should have known the resident had an animal for disability related reasons. Complainant, Respondents, and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement for money damages and affirmative relief. Respondents must pay $15,000 in emotional distress damages to Complainant, and $91,250 in civil penalties, which includes a penalty for breach of a prior Commission order in a related case. As affirmative relief, Respondents agreed to allow Complainant to keep her assistance animal, bring their reasonable accommodation policies into compliance with the law, provide notice of the policies to staff and residents, and undergo monitoring of their compliance.
See Bronx Times article: “Condo complex penalized over ‘no pets’ policy”
Ascend Learning, Inc., Pays $12,500 Fine for Failure to Post Notice of Rights for Pregnant Employees
In the course of investigating a complaint on behalf of an employee, the Law Enforcement Bureau identified that Ascend Learning, Inc., had not posted or distributed the notice of pregnancy rights to employees as required by the NYCHRL. In order to resolve the resulting Commission-initiated investigation, the Commission and Ascend Learning entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the payment of $12,500 in civil penalties due to the large size of the respondent. The agreement also required the employer to provide proof of posting or distribution of the notice, creation of a reasonable accommodations policy covering all four of the categories requiring accommodation under the NYCHRL (disability, religion, pregnancy and status as a victim of domestic violence or sex offense), dissemination of the new policy, and training of all employees in NYC on the NYCHRL.
Pibly Residential Programs Pays $14,650 to Job Applicant Denied Employment and Reforms Policies on Criminal Record Discrimination and other NYCHRL Protections
An applicant for employment as a peer advocate at Pibly Residential Programs (“Pibly”), a non-profit agency supporting adults with mental illness, filed a complaint against Pibly alleging discrimination based on his criminal record because the company initially offered the complainant employment, but then rescinded the offer after his criminal background check. The facts in the case took place before the effective date of the Fair Chance Act. After investigation by the Law Enforcement Bureau, Pibly and the Commission entered into an agreement requiring the company to bring its employment policies into compliance with the NYCHRL, train its employees on the law, and pay the complainant $4,650 in backpay and $10,000 in emotional distress damages.
North Bronx Partners, LLC, Pays $50,000 Civil Penalty for Repeat Refusals to Rent to Voucher-Holders, Will Now Give all Rental Applicants a “Notice of Rights” and Undergo Two Years of Monitoring
In a Commission-initiated investigation, a Commission tester obtained a videotape of a broker for North Bronx Partners, a landlord of approximately 90 buildings, stating that the landlord would not accept tenants with a Section 8 voucher. North Bronx had been subject to a previous complaint of source of income discrimination in 2008 when the prohibition had just come into effect. The Commission and North Bronx entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the payment of $50,000 in civil penalties, anti-discrimination training, the Commission’s Notice of Rights to be provided in all tenant applications and lease renewals, and the submission of bi-annual reports for two years listing all applicants who had a voucher and were not accepted for an apartment, and the reason for the denial.
NYC Department of Transportation Settles Age Discrimination Case by Paying $25,000 in Emotional Distress Damages and Training Supervisors/Managers
An employee filed an age discrimination claim against the NYC Department of Transportation (“DOT”) stating that he had been subject to repeated discriminatory comments related to his age by his supervisor. He stated that he had reported the comments internally but that no action had been taken. The Law Enforcement Bureau investigated and negotiated a resolution resulting in a conciliation agreement between DOT, the employee, the Commission and the supervisors responsible. The agreement requires DOT to pay $25,000 in emotional distress damages and provide anti-discrimination training to supervisors and managers in its Bridge Repair Unit, as well as re-training to certain managers on reporting and remediating complaints of discrimination. In addition, the supervisor involved in the case, who is no longer employed by DOT, will undergo 20 hours of community service with seniors.
GLC Business Services Hires Complainant, Pays $12,000 in Damages, Reforms Policies Related to Criminal Record Discrimination, and Trains Managers Throughout New York State
An applicant for employment, represented by Brooklyn Legal Services, filed a complaint against GLC Business Services, a temporary employment agency, alleging discrimination based on his criminal record. Complainant was placed with a client of GLC's, but on his first day of work disclosed his criminal record to his manager and was then asked to leave. Upon receiving the complaint from the Commission's Law Enforcement Bureau ("LEB"), GLC hired Complainant, and LEB conducted an investigation, including a review of the employment policies of GLC and its client. The Commission, the complainant, and GLC entered into a conciliation agreement requiring GLC to pay the Complainant $12,000 in damages, bring its employment policies in line with the New York City and State Human Rights Law, and train all 50 of its employees in New York City. GLC also agreed to train managers at all six of its other locations in New York State in anti-discrimination law and how to properly evaluate candidates with criminal histories for employment.
After Job Applicant Files Claim of Criminal Record Discrimination, Restaurant Hires Him, Pays Damages and Changes Policies to Comply with the Fair Chance Act and Prevent Criminal Record Discrimination
An applicant for employment filed a complaint against Ichiran U.S.A., a Japanese restaurant, alleging discrimination based on his criminal record. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau began investigation and identified violations of the Fair Chance Act, which requires employers to wait until after making a conditional offer to check applicants’ background. The Commission, Complainant and Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Ichiran to pay $6,850 in back wages and emotional distress damages, institute a Fair Chance Act compliant hiring process and train all hiring and human resources employees on the Human Rights Law and criminal record discrimination. In addition, Ichiran will work with the Hope Program to recruit prospective employees and limit consideration of job applicants’ misdemeanors and drug possession convictions to the prior seven years.
Restaurant Rectifies Gender and Pregnancy-related Violations Identified in Investigation of Claim Based on “Busboy” Ad
A female applicant for employment filed a complaint against Nanoosh restaurant for using a job advertisement seeking a “busboy.” The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau began investigation and identified a range of violations of the NYC Human Rights Law. The restaurant had a gender-specific dress code, had not posted or otherwise provided the required notice of rights to pregnant employees, and had a policy requiring employees to immediately notify the employer of a pregnancy. In addition, the restaurant’s job application was not in compliance with the Fair Chance Act or the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act. The Commission, the Complainant and the Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Nanoosh to change its illegal policies, train all managerial and supervisory employees, pay $500 to the complainant and pay $5000 in civil penalties.
Airline Pays $30,000 in Damages, Opens Lactation Space in Response to Complaint by Flight Attendant
A flight attendant filed a complaint against her employer, Endeavor Air, alleging that she was denied access to a private, sanitary space to express breast milk. Complainant stated that she was given the option of expressing milk in a public restroom, a shared employee lounge, or traveling approximately twenty minutes each way to use a sanitary, private space. While LEB’s investigation was ongoing, Endeavor Air opened a new private, sanitary lactation space adjacent to Complainant’s work site. After investigating, LEB reached a conciliated resolution with the parties in which Endeavor Air agreed to pay Complainant a total of $30,000 in emotional distress damages and attorneys’ fees. Endeavor also agreed to submit its policies on discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and reasonable accommodations to LEB for its review and disseminate any revised policies. Endeavor will train all of its managerial and supervisory employees in its NYC office on its revised policies, and in particular its policies on reasonable accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. Endeavor will also post the Commission’s general info card and pregnancy and employment rights card in prominent locations in its NYC offices.
Employer Pays $25,000 in Damages, $10,000 in Civil Penalties for Unlawful Firing of Two Employees
Two spouses filed separate complaints against their employer alleging discrimination based on disability and retaliation. One spouse was injured while at work and fired the next day, then filed a discrimination complaint with the Commission alleging that the employer discriminated against him based on his disability. His spouse was described in the Commission’s complaint as a witness to the alleged discrimination against him; two months later, the employer fired her as well. LEB investigated and issued a finding of probable cause on both cases. Following discovery at OATH, the parties entered into a conciliation agreement whereby the employer agreed to pay $16,000 in emotional distress damages to one party, $6,500 in back wages to the other, $2,500 in attorneys’ fees to Complainants’ attorney, and a $10,000 civil penalty. The employer also agreed to establish anti-discrimination policies and attend anti-discrimination training.
$95,000 in Damages for Victim of Sexual Harassment
An employee filed a complaint against her employer, James Berry-Hill and Berry Hill Galleries, alleging ongoing sexual harassment by the company’s owner over a period of three years. LEB conducted an investigation and issued a finding of probable cause to credit the allegations of harassment and constructive discharge. The Respondent, Complainant, and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the Respondent to pay the Complainant $95,000 in back pay and emotional distress damages and attend anti-discrimination training.
Condo Board and Management Company Pay $30,000 in Emotional Distress Damages and $20,000 in Civil Penalties for Refusing to Allow Emotional Support Animal
Complainant filed a complaint against her landlord, condominium board, and management company alleging that they denied her request to keep an emotional support animal in her apartment and retaliated against her for requesting an accommodation by attempting to evict her. LEB conducted an investigation and found that Respondents were maintaining an unlawful “no pets” policy without making exceptions for emotional support animals. LEB issued a finding of probable cause and referred the case to OATH. Following discovery, the parties entered into a conciliation agreement whereby Respondents agreed to pay Complainant $30,000 in emotional distress damages, as well as $20,000 in civil penalties. Respondents attended anti-discrimination training and agreed to create policies regarding reasonable accommodations and submit to monitoring by LEB of requests for accommodations for a period of five years.
City Agency Pays $43,000 in Damages, Conducts Division-Wide Training, and Submits to Monitoring as a Result of Sexual Orientation- and Gender-Based Harassment
An employee filed a complaint against the New York City Department of Transportation alleging that she was harassed because of her gender expression and sexual orientation. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau conducted an investigation and found probable cause to credit the employee’s claims that she was harassed by her colleagues and that her managers failed to act to stop the harassment. The Commission, Complainant, and Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondent to pay Complainant $43,000 in emotional distress damages, train all supervisors in Complainant’s division about their obligations with respect to stopping workplace harassment, and submit to monitoring by the Commission.
Real Estate Company Pays $21,000 in Emotional Distress Damages, $15,000 in Civil Penalties for Owner’s Sexually Explicit Comments
A former office assistant filed a complaint alleging that her former boss, the owner of Respondent Pantheon Properties, had subjected her to a hostile work environment by making sexually explicit comments in her presence. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau conducted an investigation and found evidence to substantiate Complainant’s allegations. The Commission, Complainant, and Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondent to pay Complainant $21,000 in emotional distress damages, pay $15,000 in civil penalties, attend the Commission’s anti-discrimination training, and post the Commission’s Notice of Rights prominently in the workplace.
Large Non-Profit Pays $65,000 to Visually-Impaired Nurse Who Was Fired for Requesting a Reasonable Accommodation, $30,000 in Civil Penalties, Trains over 3,000 Employees on the NYCHRL
Complainant has retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition that limits her vision. She worked for Respondent Young Adult Institute for almost ten years as a Registered Nurse. When Complainant requested that Respondent provide her with a reader to assist her in catching up on paperwork, Respondent instead fired Complainant from her job. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau conducted an investigation and found probable cause to credit the employee’s claim that she was denied a reasonable accommodation and fired because of her disability. The Commission, Complainant, and Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondent to pay Complainant $65,000 in emotional distress damages, pay a $30,000 civil penalty, create and revise policies regarding anti-discrimination and reasonable accommodations, and conduct training for all employees on the NYCHRL.
Printing Company Pays Pregnant Job Applicant $15,000 for Refusing to Hire Her Because of Her Pregnancy
Complainant applied for a sales position with Respondent Kenmar Shirts. She alleged that Respondent initially offered her the position, but then withdrew the offer after Complainant informed Respondent that she was pregnant. Following an investigation, the Commission, Complainant, and Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement whereby Respondent, a small employer, agreed to pay $15,000 in back pay and emotional distress damages to Complainant, attend an anti-discrimination training at the Commission, draft policies on the NYCHRL, and post the Commission’s General Information Card and Pregnancy Rights Card in a prominent location at their place of business.
Telecommunications Company Amends Benefits Policy to Provide Equal Treatment to Same-Sex Spouses
An employee filed a claim of gender and sexual orientation discrimination, alleging that his employer, Verizon Communications Inc. (Verizon), initially called his marriage a domestic partnership and then treated his husband’s health benefits as taxable income because of gender. Although Verizon later acknowledged Complainant’s marriage and refunded Complainant the money it had withheld from his paycheck, the Law Enforcement Bureau (LEB) sought additional emotional distress damages for Complainant, as well as policy changes. Following an investigation, Verizon, Complainant, and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Verizon to pay Complainant $6,000 in emotional distress damages to Complainant. Verizon updated its policies to treat all marriages equally for benefits purposes and agreed to provide notice to employees and benefits administrators of the change in policy. Verizon also agreed to conduct trainings on the New York City Human Rights Law for employees in the Queens facility where Complainant worked and to post notices regarding the New York City Human Rights Law in Queens field technician offices.