2018 Settlement Highlights

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 2018.

May 2018

Home Health Aide Agency Settles Pregnancy Accommodation Claim for $17,500 in Damages and $7,500 in Civil Penalties
Complainant, who was pregnant, filed a complaint against her employer, Allen Health Care Services for failing to provide her a reasonable accommodation for her pregnancy. Complainant alleged that Respondents did not allow her to work after she disclosed to them that she had certain restrictions due to her pregnancy. Following a Law Enforcement Bureau investigation, Complainant, Respondent, and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement where Respondent agreed to pay Complainant $17,500 in emotional distress damages, pay $7,500 in civil penalties, conduct anti-discrimination training, and post the Pregnancy Employment Notice. LEB also audited Respondent’s EEO policies and procedures.
 
Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation Overhauls Anti-Discrimination Policy and Pays $5,000 in Emotional Distress Damages to Temporary Employee
A temporary employee who worked as an Activity Specialist (“Complainant”) with Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation (“Respondent”) filed a complaint with the Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) alleging that Respondent terminated her employment three days before the end of the summer school program because she had repeatedly called out sick to work. Following LEB’s investigation, the Commission, Complainant, and Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondent to pay $5,000 in emotional distress damages to Complainant; provide training to all of its employees on the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”), including on disability accommodations; revise its anti-discrimination policy to ensure full compliance with the NYCHRL, including adding provisions for engaging in a cooperative dialogue with any employee that requires a disability accommodation, providing reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, religion, and to victims of domestic violence and stalking, and updating its anti-harassment language to describe the less stringent evidentiary requirements for proving a hostile work environment under the NYCHRL. Respondent also agreed to display copies of the Commission’s Notice of Rights poster in all of their places of business and provide a neutral job reference to Complainant.

CVS Settles with Patron Alleging Discriminatory Comments based on National Origin
A patron filed a complaint against CVS (“Respondents”) alleging that an employee made derogatory comments about her ability to speak English and attempted to bar her from patronizing the store because she is Bangladeshi. Respondents swiftly took action by terminating the offending employee, and entered into a conciliation agreement with the Commission and the complainant requiring the payment of $5,000 in emotional distress damages to the complainant. In addition, all of the store’s employees—83 in total—received training on the NYC Human Rights Law.

April 2018

Whole Foods Market Group Settles Pregnancy and Disability Accommodation Case for over $40,000 in Damages and $25,000 in Civil Penalties
An employee filed a complaint against Whole Foods after she was refused a shift change as an accommodation for her pregnancy and then fired after she was hospitalized due to pregnancy complications.  The complainant’s doctor had advised that she work a shorter day because of her high-risk pregnancy. Her employer refused this accommodation and the employee was required to use sick and unexcused leave in order to comply with her doctor’s directives. She then suffered pregnancy complications and was hospitalized. Whole Foods terminated her employment for excessive absences. After investigation, the Law Enforcement Bureau issued a probable cause determination. Whole Foods, the Commission and the complainant entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the employer to pay $17,500 in back-pay and $17,500 in emotional distress damages to the complainant, $5,6437.34 in attorney’s fees to her counsel, and $25,000 in civil penalties.  The agreement also requires Whole Foods to change its policies with regard to employee attendance and accommodations to comply with the NYC Human Rights Law and train all human resources employees on the updated policies.

March 2018

Company Providing Self-Help Seminars Pays $35,000 in Damages and Penalties and Changes Reasonable Accommodation Policy in Disability Discrimination Case
A patron with a hearing impairment ("Complainant") filed a complaint alleging that Landmark Worldwide Holdings ("Respondent"), a provider of self-help seminars, refused to accommodate her disability. Complainant signed up for a series of 14 classes and requested that she be provided with an ASL interpreter. Respondent subjected Complainant to several weeks of questioning about her disability and ultimately decided to hire an ASL interpreter for only two (2) of the 14 classes. For the remaining classes, Respondent provided Complainant with a personal amplification device. The Commission investigated the claims and issued a finding of probable cause. The Commission found that the amplification device did not accommodate Complainant as well as the ASL interpreter. By choosing an accommodation they deemed more appropriate, but which did not fully accommodate the Complainant and did not impose an undue hardship, Respondents failed to meet their responsibilities under the law. The Commission, the Complainant and the Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the company to pay $10,000 in emotional distress damages, pay a $25,000 civil penalty, bring its policies into line with the NYC Human Rights Law, train employees, and post the Commission’s Notice of Rights poster in all locations in New York City.
 
R.Y. Management Pays $70,000 in Damages and $10,000 in Civil Penalties for Disability Discrimination Based on Fixed Leave Policy
A former porter (“Complainant”) filed a complaint against R.Y. Management (“Respondent”) alleging that Respondent discriminated against him by failing to accommodate his disability, refusing to provide additional leave time beyond that offered through his union’s collective bargaining agreement, and ultimately terminating him. Complainant’s union, Local 32BJ, allowed one hundred and twenty days of disability leave following an injury. After investigation, the Law Enforcement Bureau issued a probable cause determination finding the application of the fixed leave policy to be a violation of the law. Ultimately, the Commission, Complainant, and Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondent to pay $70,000 in back pay and emotional distress damages to Complainant, pay $10,000 in civil penalties, display copies of the Commission’s Notice of Rights poster in all their places of business, and implement a written policy requiring a cooperative dialogue and individualized assessment following a request for a reasonable accommodation.
 
New York City Department of Transportation (“DOT”) Changes Policies Related to Medical Examinations After Complaint of Disability Discrimination
A job applicant (“Complainant”) filed a complaint against DOT alleging disability discrimination based on his actual or perceived disability. Complainant applied for a job as an Assistant City Highway Repairer, attended the necessary medical examinations, and then received a letter from DOT indicating he had been medically disqualified for employment because of an abnormal EKG and colorblindness. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) conducted an investigation, including a review of DOT’s policies relating to medical qualification requirements. In the course of the investigation, DOT changed the test used for colorblindness, implementing a test that appropriately focuses on the tasks related to the job. LEB found that DOT”s procedures with respect to applicants who were denied employment due to medical disqualification did not adequately invite a cooperative dialogue or ensure an individualized assessment. For example, job applicants did not receive written notice that they could submit additional paperwork to respond to a medical disqualification. DOT, the Complainant and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring DOT to pay the Complainant $11,000 in emotional distress damages and institute new reasonable accommodation policies related to medical examinations to ensure a cooperative dialogue and individualized assessment.

Crosstown Realty Accommodates Tenant with Disability with Complete Reconstruction of Bathroom and Payment to Relocate During Construction
Complainant lives in a converted loft and suffers from a degenerative disease that makes mobility difficult and dependent on use of a wheelchair. Complainant initially requested a ramp to his bathroom, but the ramp the landlord constructed was not ADA-compliant and led Complainant to injure himself. Furthermore, the bathroom’s layout did not allow for wheelchair mobility within its confines. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau worked with Respondent to facilitate the complete reconstruction of the bathroom as a reasonable accommodation and for Respondent to pay for Complainant’s assisted living during this construction. As part of this conciliation, Respondent’s sole employee will receive HRL training, a policy has been drafted and implemented, and Respondent will display a NYCCHR housing rights poster in the lobby of its building.

February 2018

Both Former and Current Landlords Pay $17,500 in Damages and $5,000 in Civil Penalties, Install Automatic Doors and Ramp for Tenant with Disability
A tenant who uses a wheelchair filed a complaint alleging that the owner of her building refused to make the entrance accessible despite her repeated requests. After the complaint was filed, the respondent installed a ramp. The building’s ownership was then transferred and the new owner of the building was added as a respondent in the Complaint. The new owner installed automatic doors. Following LEB’s continued investigation into whether either owner had fully complied with the law in response to the tenant’s requests for accommodation, both former and current owners (“Respondents”), the Complainant, and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondents to pay the complainant $17,500 in emotional distress damages and $5,000 in civil penalties; provide anti-discrimination training to all supervisory personnel of both former and current owners; develop a reasonable accommodation policy for all buildings of both former and current owners; display copies of the Commission’s Notice of Rights poster in prominent common areas of all their places of business; and notify tenants of their rights.
 
Alma Bank Pays $20,000 in Damages and $17,000 in Civil Penalties for Failure to Provide the Religious Accommodation of Time to Pray
An employee (“Complainant”) filed a complaint against Alma Bank (“Respondent”), alleging that Respondent denied her a religious accommodation. Complainant, a practicing Muslim, used her meal period to pray at work. Complainant alleged her manager forbade her to take her meal period despite Complainant’s explanation about her use of her meal period to perform her religious obligations. After the Law Enforcement Bureau’s investigation, the Commission, the Complainant and Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Alma Bank to pay the complainant $10,000 in back-pay and $10,000 in emotional distress damages, pay $17,000 in civil penalties, significantly overhaul policies on providing religious accommodation, post Notices of Rights in the workplace, and undergo anti-discrimination training with a focus on religious accommodation.

Hampton Inn Hotel Franchisee Pays $35,000 in Emotional Distress Damages and $20,000 in Civil Penalties to Settle Hostile Work Environment Case Based on Gender and Religion
A former employee filed a complaint against a Hampton Inn franchise operating a single hotel in New York City, alleging that his manager repeatedly made discriminatory remarks about his gender and religion. The employee complained to a manager, but the employer could not show any evidence that the complaint had been investigated or addressed. Following the Law Enforcement Bureau’s investigation, Complainant, Respondents, and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondents to pay the Complainant $35,000 in emotional distress damages, pay $20,000 in civil penalties, train managers on the New York City Human Rights Law, update its anti-discrimination policy, and post the policy and the Commission’s Notice of Rights poster throughout the hotel.
 
Non-profit Settles Retaliation Claim by Employee Who Reported Discrimination by Paying $20,000 in Damages and $15,000 in Civil Penalties

An employee (“Complainant”) of Young Adults with Special Abilities (“YASA” or “Respondent”) filed a complaint of retaliation, alleging she was fired because she complained about discrimination against her son, who was a participant in YASA’s programs for adults with disabilities. The complainant was employed by YASA as a part-time bus driver and her son participated in a day program for adults with disabilities run by YASA. She complained that one of YASA’S employees made discriminatory comments to him because he uses a wheelchair. Following her internal complaint, YASA adopted a policy prohibiting relatives of participants in its programs from working for it. Complainant was the only such person, and YASA immediately terminated her employment based on the new policy. After investigation by the Law Enforcement Bureau, the Commission, the Respondent and the Complainant entered into an agreement requiring Respondent to pay Complainant $20,000 in compensatory damages, pay $15,000 in civil penalties, provide NYCHRL training to its managerial and supervisory employees, and revise and post anti-discrimination policies.

January 2018

Restaurant Pays Civil Penalty to Settle Gender and Sexual Orientation Discrimination Claims
A former employee of Cascabel Taqueria filed a complaint that the owner of the restaurant made discriminatory remarks about his gender and sexual orientation to him and other employees, and terminated his employment after he complained about the discriminatory comments. The restaurant denied the allegations. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) conducted an investigation, including a witness interview who supported the Complainant’s allegations of harassment, as well as a review of the company’s existing policies and procedure to assess overall compliance with the NYC Human Rights Law. The employee did not follow through with his complaint, however, the Commission and the restaurant entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the company to pay $5,000 in civil penalties, attend anti-discrimination training, update its anti-discrimination policy to ensure compliance with the New York City Human Rights Law, and post the policy and the Commission’s Notice of Rights poster.


PLS Check Casher Builds New Ramp and Pays $6,000 in Damages to Patron
Complainant, who has a disability and utilizes a mobility assistance device, filed a complaint against PLS Check Cashers for failure to accommodate his disability by maintaining an inaccessible ramp at the entrance at one of their New York City locations that resulted in unequal access to the location for Complainant. PLS has forty-one locations in New York City. PLS subsequently rebuilt the ramp at a cost of approximately $45,000 and agreed to pay Complainant $6,000 in emotional distress damages. PLS also agreed to conduct anti-discrimination training for all of their District Managers and Store Managers in New York City and post a Notice of Rights poster in all their NYC locations.