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.

December 2018

The Atlantic Group LLC Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Claim by Former Employee; Pays $40,000 in Damages and $10,000 in Civil Penalties; and Agrees To Modify Mandatory Arbitration Clause to Exclude All City Claims, Among Other Affirmative Relief
Complainant, represented by The Legal Aid Society, filed a complaint of disability and gender discrimination due to pregnancy against her former employer, The Atlantic Group LLC (“Atlantic Group”). After an investigation, the Law Enforcement Bureau issued a probable cause determination, finding that supervisors made discriminatory comments to Complainant regarding her pregnancy and appearance, and reduced her schedule in response to her request for periodic changes to her schedule to accommodate her doctors’ appointments. The Law Enforcement Bureau, Complainant, and Respondents entered into a conciliation agreement in which Atlantic Group agreed to pay $40,000 in emotional distress damages to Complainant and $10,000 in civil penalties to the City of New York; modify its mandatory arbitration clause in its employee handbook to exclude all claims under New York City Law, including under the New York City Human Rights Law; conduct training for all of their New York City employees; institute policies subject to Commission approval; and post a notice of rights for pregnant workers.

Engineering and Architectural Company Pays $135,000 in Damages and Penalties in Disability Case and Institutes New Reasonable Accommodation Policy
An employee filed a complaint alleging that his employer, HAKS Engineers, Architects, and Land Surveyors (d/b/a Atane Engineers, Architects, and Land Surveyors) failed to provide him with a reasonable accommodation for his disability and terminated his employment as a result. The Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) conducted a full investigation and issued a probable cause determination. The Commission and the parties entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondents to pay $125,000 to the complainant (in backpay and emotional distress damages), pay a civil penalty of $10,000, provide the complainant with a neutral job reference, and distribute and implement a revised disability accommodation policy that comports with the New York City Human Rights Law, including its cooperative dialogue requirements.

Employer Pays $30,000 in Damages and Penalties and Agrees to Substantial Affirmative Relief to Settle Fair Chance Act Case
An employee filed a complaint alleging that Triangle Services, Inc. (“Triangle”) revoked his employment offer because of his criminal conviction record. The Complaint also alleged that Respondent Triangle’s employment application made an unlawful inquiry about arrest/conviction history prior to a conditional offer of employment. The Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) of the Commission conducted an investigation and found evidence that Respondents may have revoked Complainant’s employment offer based on reasons that were pretext for unlawful discrimination. LEB also found that Respondent Triangle’s application contained a per se violation of the Fair Chance Act. The Commission and the parties entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondents to pay $20,000 in combined backpay and emotional distress damages to the complainant, pay a civil penalty of $10,000 to the City of New York, conduct antidiscrimination training for all of its managerial employees in New York City, and display the Commission’s Notice of Rights poster at all of its locations in New York City. In addition, Respondent Triangle also changed its employment application to “Ban the Box” nationwide.

Cybersecurity Firm Settles Criminal Conviction History Discrimination Case For $65,000, Updates Policies, and Trains Employees on the Fair Chance Act
Complainant, who applied for the position of a territorial development representative at Respondent Varonis Systems, Inc. (“Varonis”), alleged that the cybersecurity firm revoked his offer of employment because of his criminal conviction history, which included two (2) misdemeanor offenses. Complainant further alleged that Varonis failed to abide by the Fair Chance Act process in assessing his criminal conviction history, including the failure to provide him with a copy of a Fair Chance Act notice, which would have explained the reason why Varonis was rescinding the offer of employment and would have provided Complainant with a meaningful opportunity to respond to their decision. Following an extensive investigation, the Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) of the New York City Commission on Human Rights (“Commission”) found evidence that Varonis did not meet its legal obligation to provide requisite notices, properly consider Complainant’s evidence of rehabilitation, and appropriately analyze whether his convictions had a direct relationship to the desired position.
 
LEB and the parties entered into a conciliation agreement, whereby Varonis agreed to pay Complainant $50,000 in compensatory damages ($25,000 in backpay, $25,000 in emotional distress damages and attorneys’ fees) and a $15,000 civil penalty to the City of New York. Varonis also revised its written Fair Chance Act policy, posted the Commission’s “Fair Chance Act” and “Notice of Rights” posters at its New York City office, and has agreed to train all of its New York City-based employees on the New York City Human Rights Law, including the Fair Chance Act and making assessments pursuant to Article 23-A of the New York State Corrections Law.

National Retailer Settles Racial Profiling Case by Black Shopper; Pays $13,000 and Agrees To Create Anti-Bias and Anti-Profiling Policy
A shopper at J.C. Penney filed a complaint of race discrimination alleging that he was targeted for an ID check at checkout because of his race. After investigation, the parties entered into a Commission conciliation agreement requiring J.C. Penney to pay a $6,500 civil penalty, pay $6,500 in compensation to the shopper, post Commission postings in all New York City locations and create an anti-bias and anti-profiling policy and train all staff in New York City.

Strand Book Store Settles Employment Disability Discrimination Claim; Pays $45,000 in Damages and Penalties and Changes its Job Application
An employee filed a complaint against Strand Book Store, Inc. after she was fired when she requested to avoid loading and unloading heavy boxes of books due to her physical disability, ostensibly because she had concealed her disability in the job application process. The Law Enforcement Bureau issued a probable cause determination for failing to engage in a cooperative dialogue with the bookseller to accommodate her disability. The parties signed a conciliation agreement mandating: $40,000 in back pay and emotional distress damages to the bookseller; $5,000 in civil penalties; a revised form job application to clarify that applicants can receive a reasonable accommodation to perform the duties of the job; two (2) years of monitoring of Strand’s handling of requests for reasonable accommodations; revisions to Strand’s anti-discrimination policies; training of all managers on reasonable accommodations; and postings of employees’ rights to be free of discrimination.

Astor Services for Children and Families Agrees to Revise its Reasonable Accommodation Policies to Ensure Compliance with Cooperative Dialogue Requirements
An employee filed a complaint against Astor Services for Children and Families (“Astor Services”) and three of its employees for failure to reasonably accommodate her disability. Complainant alleged that Astor Services took an adverse employment action against her as a result of her medical leave. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) conducted an investigation, which included a review of Astor Services’s reasonable accommodation policies. While the investigation did not uncover a violation of the NYC Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”), LEB found that Astor Services’s reasonable accommodation policies required updating to comply with the NYCHRL’s cooperative dialogue requirements. Consequently, the parties entered into a conciliation agreement. The agreement required Astor Services to revise its policies to include the cooperative dialogue requirements, entailing an evaluation of an individual’s needs, consideration of possible accommodations, and a written final determination. Astor Services agreed to take all necessary measures to ensure employee compliance and to promptly take disciplinary action to address any infraction. Astor Services also agreed to post the policy in all staff rooms, distribute the policy to all current employees, and add the policy to their employee handbook. 

Office Building Pays $22,000 in Damages and Penalties For Refusing Access to a Person with a Service Animal
A person with a disability who relies on the assistance of a service animal ("Complainant") was denied access to an office building ("Respondent") in which he was attempting to seek services related to his disability because of the presence of his service animal. Security guards stopped Complainant, telling him repeatedly he could not enter the building with his dog, even after he explained that the dog was a service animal and described how the animal assisted him with limitations caused by his disability. The Complainant, Respondent, and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the Respondent to pay $7,000 in emotional distress damages to Complainant and $15,000 in civil penalties, conduct anti-discrimination training for staff and security guards, create a policy reflecting compliance with the New York City Human Rights Law, and post the Commission's "Notice of Rights" Poster.

November 2018

After Fair Chance Act Claim, Cleaning Services Company Reforms Policies, Partners with Reentry Organizations to Hire People with Criminal Records, And Pays $62,000 in Damages
Complainant applied to work as a custodian for a cleaning services company. The application for the position contained questions about criminal history, and Complainant was interrogated about his criminal history during his interview. Afterwards, Complainant did not receive an offer for the position, and he filed a complaint with the Commission alleging criminal history discrimination and violations of the Fair Chance Act. To resolve the case, Respondent agreed to bring its employment policies in line with the New York City Human Rights Law, train the company’s managers; partner with select reentry organizations to hire their clients; pay the Complainant $35,000 in emotional distress damages and $7,000 in back pay, and pay the Commission a $20,000 civil penalty.

Landlord Installs Wheelchair Lift and Pays $40,000 in Damages and Penalties to Settle Disability Discrimination Claim Alleging after Tenant Reported She Was Confined to Her Home
A tenant filed a disability discrimination complaint against Pinnacle Management Co., 1362 Ocean Ave LLC, 3165 Realty Co, LLC, Wiener Realtors and responsible individuals (“Respondents”). The tenant (“complainant”) has a disability and became dependent on the use of a wheelchair for mobility. She was unable to leave her building because there are 5 steps to the main lobby and 1 step at the main entrance of the Building. She advised Respondents that she was unable to leave her apartment on April 10, 2017. The complaint alleged that Respondents ignored Complainant’s request(s) for a reasonable accommodation and forced her to be confined to her apartment. After receiving the complaint in January 2018. Respondents ordered an electric wheelchair lift and completed the electric wheelchair lift installation in or around June 2018. After investigation by the Law Enforcement Bureau, the Complainant, Respondents, and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement which requires the Respondents to have all staff responsible for reviewing tenants’ reasonable accommodation requests at all New York City locations attend training on their obligations pursuant to the NYCHRL; make postings of the Commission’s “Fair Housing” poster in prominent common areas at all New York City locations; provide a copy of the Commission’s “Fair Housing” brochure to all rental applicants at the time of application; establish a policy against all housing practices that violate the NYCHRL; and pay Complainant the gross total settlement sum of thirty thousand ($30,000) dollars and the City of New York a Civil Penalty of ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

Home Care Provider Pays Over $25,000 in Damages and Penalties for Fair Chance Act Violation
A prospective employee (“Complainant”) filed a complaint against Careguardian, Inc., a provider of in-home care, for not hiring her as a caregiver because of her criminal record. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau conducted an investigation and determined that the company had not followed the required analysis under the NYCHRL’s Fair Chance Act in that Respondents obtained information about Complainant’s criminal history prior to a conditional offer of employment. The Commission and the employer entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the employer to pay Complainant $21,160 in damages, pay a $5,000 civil penalty, conduct anti-discrimination trainings, revise policies and procedures governing criminal background checks and consumer history checks including revisions to the employer’s handbook, and display postings notifying employees of their rights under NYCHRL. 

NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“DOHMH”) Settles Retaliation Claim By Paying $67,500 in Damages and Undergoing Monitoring
A current employee (“Complainant”) represented by Vladeck, Raskin & Clark filed a complaint alleging that his employer, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“DOHMH”) and various supervisors, retaliated against him after he complained about age discrimination on behalf of a colleague. After an investigation, the Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) found that Respondent DOHMH’s HR and EEO offices followed up on Complainant’s allegation by speaking to his colleague, but took no further steps after that person declined to file a complaint. Respondent supervisors then made the decision to transfer Complainant to a different position at the agency. LEB issued a probable cause determination. The Commission, Complainant, and Respondents entered into a conciliation agreement in which Respondent DOHMH agreed to pay $67,500 in emotional distress damages to Complainant, including attorneys’ fees; remove any unsigned documents from Complainant’s personnel file; and comply with three (3) months of monitoring by maintaining and submitting to the Commission all complaints of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation made to their EEO Office.
 
Employment Agency Pays over $26,000 in Compensatory Damages To Settle Claim of Gender, Pregnancy, and Age Discrimination
An employee alleged that an employment agency, ExecuSearch discriminated against her based on her gender, pregnancy, and age by removing her from a paraprofessional assignment, in which she worked with a child. Following an investigation, the Law Enforcement Bureau found that the employment agency, which placed Complainant in a job and supervised her work, had removed her from the position in part because the mother of the child complainant worked with had expressed concerns about Complainant’s pregnancy. As a result, the Law Enforcement Bureau, Complainant, and Respondent employment agency entered into a conciliation agreement where the agency agreed to pay Complainant $6,228 in back pay and $20,000 in emotional distress damages, as well as update its anti-discrimination policies and hiring practices and train its employees on those updated policies.

Rochdale Village Pays $30,000 in Civil Penalties for Refusing to Allow Emotional Support Animal; Agrees to Adopt Commission’s Sample Reasonable Accommodation Policy, Conduct Trainings, and Make Postings
Rochdale Village denied a tenant’s request to keep an emotional support animal in her apartment and initiated eviction proceedings when she did not remove the animal. Through an investigation, LEB found that Rochdale Village served the underlying notices and initiated the eviction proceeding after the tenant submitted an appropriate letter from a medical professional establishing that the animal alleviated the symptoms of her disability. The parties entered into a conciliation agreement whereby Respondents agreed to pay $30,000 in civil penalties. Respondents also agreed to adopt the Commission’s sample reasonable accommodation policy, to train all board members, employees with managerial authority, and employees involved in receiving or responding to reasonable accommodation requests, and to post the Commission’s Fair Housing Poster throughout its buildings.

Non-Profit Employer Pays $10,000 in Damages and Agrees to Conduct Management Training after Repeated Jokes about Disability
An employee filed a complaint against her employer alleging that she was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her disability after an executive repeatedly told a joke relating to her disability at the employee lunch table. The Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) of the Commission conducted an investigation and found that the joke was told at the lunch table in the presence of supervisors who failed to take any action to stop the offensive conduct. The Commission and the parties entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the employer to pay the complainant $10,000 in emotional distress damages, conduct antidiscrimination training for all of its managerial employees in New York City, and display the Commission’s Notice of Rights poster.
 
Landlord Installs Ramp and Pays $25,000 in Damages and Penalties to Settle Disability Discrimination Claim
A Bronx tenant filed a complaint alleging that her landlord, Carroll Place Associates, LLC, failed to accommodate her and her sister’s mobility-related disabilities despite repeated requests for a ramp in their building. The Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) of the Commission conducted an investigation and found that there were multiple tenants living in the building with mobility-related disabilities, including tenants who utilize wheelchairs. The Commission and the parties entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondents to pay $5,000 in emotional distress damages to the complainant; pay a civil penalty of $20,000 to the City of New York; attend a training on their obligations under the New York City Human Rights Law, and display copies of the Commission’s Notice of Rights poster in all of their properties. The Respondents also spent an additional $24,700 in modifications to make two of their properties accessible in the course of the Commission’s involvement.

Property Resources Corporation Resolves Housing Discrimination Case Based on Use of Criminal History Causing Disparate Impact Based on Race and National Origin; Pays $55,000 in Emotional Distress Damages and $25,000 in Civil Penalties; Agrees to Substantial Affirmative Relief
A prospective tenant contacted LEB stating that she was denied an apartment by Property Resources Corporation because of her criminal history. The tenant stated that PRC relied on a criminal background report containing several mistakes and refused to consider her evidence that she had not been convicted of the charges on the report. LEB conducted an investigation into PRC’s tenant selection procedures and determined that PRC denied up to ten other individuals in a three-year period based on convictions appearing in background reports that were either minor, nondescript as to the underlying charges, or appeared to belong to different individuals. LEB filed a Commission-initiated complaint alleging that PRC had a policy of denying applicants based on criminal history where not related to business need, and that the criminal history policy had a discriminatory effect on Black and Latinx applicants. PRC agreed to pay $55,000 in emotional distress damages and $25,000 in civil penalties, to notify all past applicants with a criminal history that they were eligible to reapply, to revise all tenant selection policies, to provide anti-discrimination training to all employees in New York City, and to submit to monitoring for a period of two years.  See press coverage.

October 2018

TJX Companies Fixes Pre-Employment Forms to Comply with the Fair Chance Act and Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act
In response to a publicly filed complaint, the Commission identified that TJX was using pre-employment forms that were not in compliance with the law’s credit and criminal history protections. In response, TJX voluntarily added to its form requesting authorization to run a consumer report the following language: “At no point will your credit score or credit history be sought or used to make a decision about your candidacy for employment.” After a conditional offer of employment, TJX inquiries into applicants’ criminal conviction histories, and it now uses, as set forth in its Fair Chance Act guidance, the Commission’s recommended question for doing so, which insures applicants will not disclose sealed or youthful offender cases.

$181,000 To Resolve Gender-Based Harassment and Retaliation Claims
In a notable settlement, the Commission conciliated a case in which both a husband and wife had suffered the effects of gender-based harassment and retaliation. The couple had both been employed by Kent Security of New York, Inc., a company that provides security, janitorial, and maintenance services. They filed complaints with the Commission against Kent, alleging that their supervisor demanded sexual favors from the woman in exchange for her request to be transferred to a different work location, and then fired her husband after she reported the sexual harassment. After the Law Enforcement Bureau’s investigation, the Commission and the parties entered into conciliation agreements requiring the employer to pay the husband $56,000 and the wife $100,000 in damages and attorney’s fees, pay $25,000 in civil penalties, attend anti-discrimination training, create new policies that resulted in substantial changes to its procedures and Employee Handbook, and put up postings notifying employees of their rights under the New York City Human Rights Law with respect to sexual harassment and other requirements under the Law.

Lasio Inc. Pays $32,500 To Settle Pregnancy Accommodation, Gender and Retaliation Claim
A former employee filed a pregnancy accommodation, gender discrimination, and retaliation claim against her former employer, Lasio, Inc., and its owner alleging that the employer failed to accommodate requests made related to her pregnancy, including time off for medical visits related to her pregnancy, a request for additional bathroom breaks, and permission to eat at her desk. Complainant also alleged that approximately a week after she began discussing her plans for parental leave with the employer, the employer terminated her employment. After the Law Enforcement Bureau’s investigation, the Commission and the parties entered into a conciliation agreement, requiring the employer to pay the complainant $25,000 in back pay and emotional distress damages, pay $7,500 in civil penalties to the City of New York, attend anti-discrimination training, and put up postings notifying employees of their rights under the New York City Human Rights Law with respect to pregnancy accommodations, sexual harassment, and other requirements under the law.

Manufacturing Company Pays $15,000 to Employee in Pregnancy Discrimination Case‚Ä®
A former employee filed a complaint against a manufacturing company alleging that she was terminated a month before she was scheduled to go on childbirth leave. LEB investigated and determined that the company terminated Complainant due to her pregnancy. LEB also found that the company offered to reinstate Complainant sixteen days after the termination after being served with the Commission’s complaint. LEB issued a determination of probable cause and referred the case to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. Respondents, the Complainant and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the employer to pay $15,000 in emotional distress damages to the Complainant, to implement an anti-discrimination policy, and to train staff regarding the New York City Human Rights Law. Due to the size, resources, and impending closure of the company, a civil penalty was not assessed.

September 2018

Emergency Intervention Actions for Homeless Tenants

The Source of Income Unit employs emergency intervention to help tenants using public assistance to pay their rent to obtain housing. Some recent successes include:
  • Housing obtained: A disabled single mother with CITYFEPS attempted to apply for an apartment in a gentrifying neighborhood near Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The broker told the complainant that the owner would not accept CITYFEPS, and told her to move to the Bronx or East New York where owners would be interested in taking a “program” tenant with children. Only a few minutes after the denial, the Source of Income Unit’s Emergency Intervention team contacted the owner, Bronstein Properties, which ultimately agreed to hold the unit open. The tenant applied and moved into her new apartment in July of 2018.
  • New voucher accepted: In August of 2018, an elderly monolingual Russian speaker and holocaust survivor, received a Section-8 voucher after spending more than 15 years on the waitlist. When she asked her landlord to fill out the paperwork, he not only refused but severely berated her. The Source of Income Unit’s Emergency Intervention team called the landlord, who maintained he would not take the tenants’ voucher but agreed to speak with his attorney. After expedient negotiations with the landlord’s attorney, the landlord filled out all necessary paperwork within the month.
  • Housing obtained: A homeless complainant called dozens of brokers in the Bronx, many of whom told her she could join a “waitlist” for applicants with LINC vouchers. The complainant recorded her conversations and sent the recordings to the Source of Income Unit immediately after the interactions. The Emergency Intervention team called several brokers, many of whom admitted that they maintained a “waitlist” for LINC applicants. None agreed to change their policies, forcing LEB to immediately commence litigation against all offenders. One broker, upon receiving the complaint, contacted Complainant and took her to see a number of units until she found one that met her needs. Complainant moved from the shelter into her apartment in the Spring of 2018. LEB is seeking damages against the remaining parties. 

Brooklyn Grocery Store Pays $5,000 to Employee and $5,000 in Civil Penalties in Disability and Perceived Alienage and Citizenship Status Discrimination Case
A former employee filed a complaint against a family-owned grocery store and its owners alleging discrimination on the basis of disability and perceived alienage and citizenship status. After working for Respondents for fifteen years, Complainant was injured at work. Respondents then threatened Complainant that if he sued them or asked for a reasonable accommodation, Respondents would call immigration and have Complainant deported. After Complainant was cleared by his doctor to come back to work, Respondents told Complainant to “go away and come back when you have papers.”
 
The Commission, Complainant and Respondents entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondents to pay the complainant $5,000 in emotional distress damages; pay a civil penalty of $5,000 to the City of New York; attend a training on their obligations under the New York City Human Rights Law and display copies of the Commission’s know-your-rights postings in five common areas of the supermarket.

As a Result of Fair Chance Act Complaint, Mount Sinai Health Systems Hires Complainant; Reforms Procedures for Checking Criminal History; Gives Added Protections to Employees in New York City
An applicant filed a complaint against Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital alleging criminal history discrimination. LEB initiated an investigation and found that while Mount Sinai did not deny the individual employment due to his criminal history, Mount Sinai did violate the Fair Chance Act by including education and employment verification as part of the background check they performed on Complainant. To resolve the case, Mount Sinai agreed to hire Complainant and to implement new background check procedures at all hospitals in the Mount Sinai Hospital Network that give applicants added protections against criminal history discrimination. Mount Sinai will now give applicants information that will prevent applicants from making misrepresentations about their criminal histories, and will not revoke an offer of employment based on a misrepresentation that is made in good faith, such as where the applicant relied on incorrect advice from an attorney. Mount Sinai will also subject itself to monitoring by LEB for a period of two years.

After Fair Chance Act Claim, ABM Industries Reforms Policies, Partners With Reentry Organizations to Hire People With Criminal Records and Pays Job Applicant $30,000 in Damages and a $17,500 Civil Penalty
Complainant applied for and was offered employment, only to have the offer rescinded after he self-disclosed his conviction history. Before rescinding his offer, ABM failed to follow the Fair Chance Act and evaluate Complainant under Correction Law Article 23-A. ABM has agreed to bring its employment policies in line with the New York City Human Rights Law and Fair Chance Act and train its human resources personnel in New York City accordingly; partner with select reentry organizations to hire their clients; and pay the Complainant $30,000 in emotional distress damages and the Commission a $17,500 civil penalty.

Construction Firm Settles Disability Discrimination Case For $62,500 in Damages, and Creates Anti-Discrimination Policies
Complainant, a former project supervisor, filed a complaint against his prior employer Respondent Shannon Contracting LLC alleging that the general contracting and construction management firm subjected him to different terms and conditions because of his disability, failed to accommodate his disability, and retaliated against him for requesting a reasonable accommodation. Complainant alleged that Respondents told him that he “can’t call out sick” because he was “hired for this project,” and that they “need[ed] him to work.” In addition, Complainant, who temporarily relied on the use of a cane because of his disability, alleged that he was told that he made the company "look bad,” and further alleged that Respondents terminated him from his position in retaliation for requesting an accommodation. Following the Law Enforcement Bureau’s investigation, the Commission, Complainant and Respondents entered into a conciliation agreement to resolve the matter. Respondent Shannon Contracting L.P. agreed to pay $55,000 in damages to Complainant, including damages for backpay, emotional distress, and attorneys' fees, and a $7,500 civil penalty. Respondent will also create and implement anti-discrimination policies compliant with the New York City Human Rights Law, including a reasonable accommodation policy, make postings, and train supervisory and human resources employees on their obligations under the NYCHRL.

New York Public Library Ramps Up Efforts to Better Accommodate Autistic Library Patrons, Pays $5,000 in Damages
Complainant, who identifies as being a person on the autism spectrum, filed a complaint against Respondent New York Public Library (“NYPL”) alleging that Respondent NYPL discriminated against her on the basis of her disability, refused to reasonably accommodate her disability, and made her feel unwelcome in a place of public accommodation. Complainant alleged that Respondent NYPL’s Columbus Branch staff refused to let her sit in a quiet space in the basement while waiting for a class, which she required to accommodate her disability. In addition, a manager for Respondent NYPL told Complainant that she “didn’t look like [she] had a disability” when Complainant explained to him that excessive noise on the main level of the library negatively impacted her disability. Following an investigation by the Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”), the Commission, Complainant, and Respondents entered into a conciliation agreement, whereby Respondent NYPL agreed to pay Complainant $5,000 in emotional distress damages; provide an in-person anti-discrimination and Autism Awareness training to staff at the Columbus Branch; provide Accessibility and Inclusion Training, including Autism Awareness Training, to all of its staff at all of Respondent NYPL’s branches across New York City; post a Notice of Rights and a notice of Disability Protections Under the New York City Human Rights Law at its Columbus Branch in a conspicuous location visible to employees and library patrons; and agreed to a review of its disability accommodation policies by LEB. Respondent NYPL’s Autism Awareness Training implements a comprehensive approach, including ensuring that staff recognize that no two (2) people with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder are the same, and that staff should be aware of variances in social skills, communication, restrictive/repetitive behaviors, and sensory integration challenges and accommodation needs with respect to autistic individuals to improve the library experiences of all patrons with disabilities.

Landlord pays $10,000 in Emotional Distress Damages for Cancelling Lease Because Tenants’ Child is Blind
The parents of a minor child filed a complaint alleging that Qin Chen, the owner of a small building in Queens, cancelled their lease after learning that their 8-year-old child was blind. Complainants, the child and his parents, were prepared to move into the landlord’s building when he texted them cancelling their agreement because he did not want to assume responsibility for the child’s potential injury. Following LEB’s investigation, the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the landlord to pay the Complainants $10,000 in emotional distress damages; display copies of the Commission’s Notice of Rights poster in prominent common areas of the building; and take anti-discrimination training.

See press coverage:  El Diario

August 2018

Landlord Pays $15,000 in Damages and $2,500 in Civil Penalties for Disparaging and Rejecting Couple Based on Race
A couple filed a complaint against the owners of one two-unit building in Brooklyn alleging that the owners denied them an apartment on the basis of race. The Law Enforcement Bureau investigated and issued a determination of probable cause, finding that Respondents met the Complainants in person and then made disparaging statements and rejected the Complainants because one of the Complainants is Black. Respondents, Complainants, and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the Respondents to pay $15,000 to the Complainants in emotional distress damages, $2,500 to the City of New York in civil penalties, attend training regarding the New York City Human Rights Law, and put up notice of rights posters in their building.

Landlord pays $10,000 in Civil Penalties and $5,000 in Damages for Rejecting Non-Citizen Subtenant
A Queens resident (“Complainant”) filed a complaint against a landlord (“Respondent”), alleging that Respondent denied his application to sublet his apartment because the potential subtenant was not a United States citizen. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau investigated and found that Respondent, who is a licensed real estate broker and co-owns several rental properties, repeatedly told Complainant that she would only accept a subtenant who was a citizen, even though the New York City Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin and citizenship status in housing. Respondents, Complainants, and the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the Respondents to pay $5,000 to the Complainant in actual and emotional distress damages, $10,000 to the City in Civil Penalties, attend training regarding the New York City Human Rights Law, and make postings of the Commission’s Notice of Rights poster in each of her buildings.

July 2018

Metropolitan Jewish Health System Hospice (MJHS) Settles Disability Discrimination Claim by Employee Fired While on Medical Leave; Pays $96,000 and Implements New Policies
An employee brought a claim against MJHS for disability discrimination after she took medical leave and was then fired once she notified her employer that she was cleared to return to work. After investigation, LEB found that MJHS had terminated the complainant’s employment and refused to allow her to return from leave of absence because of the length of her leave and the fact that she had previously taken sick days off. LEB also found that Respondent MJHS had a policy mandating the termination of the employment of employees absent from work for a period of one year, regardless of the reason for their leave, and without consideration of any possibility of reasonable accommodation. Such policies violate the NYCHRL. MJHS, the Commission and the complainant entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the company to pay the complainant $50,000 in compensatory damages, pay $46,000 in civil penalties, implement new policies in line with the NYC Human Rights Law’s requirements to provide leave as an accommodation, and train employees on the new policies.

Promesa Residential Health Care Facility Agrees to Overhaul Policies and Pay Civil Penalties After Commission Testers Revealed Blatant Gender Identity Discrimination
Through a Commission-initiated investigation, the Law Enforcement Bureau found evidence that Promesa Residential Health Care Facility, The Puerto Rican Organization To Motivate, Enlighten, and Serve Addicts, Inc., Promesa Residential Health Care Facility, Inc., and Acacia Network, Inc. (Respondents) maintained policies and practices that resulted in blatant discrimination against transgender people and filed Commission-initiated complaint. Respondents’ personnel told Commission testers that transgender women would be required to room with men. In one test, Respondents’ staff told a tester that transgender women would be turned away entirely unless a private room was available and LEB later learned the facility in question had only one private room. The Commission and Respondents entered into a conciliation agreement for ten-thousand dollars in civil penalties as well as affirmative relief.  Respondents agreed to implement policies that clearly prohibit gender-based discrimination and harassment, including by permitting transgender people to participate in all aspects of their services in a manner consistent with their gender identity, including room assignments and other gender specific programs and facilities. Respondents also agreed to notify organizations that help LGBTQ people connect with substance abuse treatment of their updated policies and organizations that assist LGBTQ job seekers of Respondents external job postings. Lastly, Respondents agreed to conduct ongoing anti-discrimination training and to monitoring by the Commission.

See press coverage:
WNYC: New York City Agency is Accusing Several Drug Addiction Centers of Discriminating Against Transgender Patients – staff (July 13, 2017)

Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center Agrees to Implement New Procedures to Ensure Compliance with Gender Identity Protections 
A patient, who is a transgender woman, filed a complaint alleging discrimination based on her gender identity. The complaint outlined that staff members asked invasive questions about ‘what she had down there,’ insisted that she could not room with other women, asked her, “Did you have the operation? If you did not have the operation, you have to be roomed alone.” After investigation, LEB issued a probable cause determination. Beth Israel’s existing patient care policy already required that facilities be accessible to all patients consistent with gender identity. The Commission, Complainant and Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Beth Israel to:
•    Pay Complainant $25,000 in compensatory damages.
•    Hold ongoing staff trainings on working with transgender patients.
•    Post the NYC Department of Health’s LGBT “Bill of Rights” poster.
•    Update its systems to make patients’ preferred names and personal pronouns visible to frontline staff.
•    Update its website with information on its non-discrimination policies and how individuals can file a grievance with the hospital.
•    Flag and direct grievances regarding transgender patients to its Patient Safety/Patient Grievances Committee.
•    Continue its meetings of the Community Advisory Board for the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery to meet every 6 months.
•    Submit to monitoring by the Commission.

Call Center Background Check Policy Resulted in Arrest/Conviction Record Discrimination
A former survey representative filed a complaint against MaritzCX Research LLC and Universal Survey Center, Inc. alleging discrimination based on his previous record of criminal conviction when his conviction was used as the sole basis to remove him from a lucrative project. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) conducted an investigation, including a review of the background check policies. LEB found that the criminal background check process lacked any analysis of the employee’s conviction history pursuant to New York Correction Law Article 23-A. MaritzCX Research LLC and Universal Survey Center, Inc entered into a conciliation agreement with the Commission requiring them to pay the complainant $15,000 in emotional distress damages; pay a civil penalty of $10,000 to the City of New York; provide anti-discrimination training to all of its managers, supervisors, and human resources personnel responsible for employment decisions in New York City; update its employment policies and procedures to comply with the NYC Human Rights Law; and display copies of the Commission’s “Notice of Rights” poster on the company’s intranet.

June 2018

Clothing Company Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Claim for $34,000, New Policies, Training and Posting
An employee, represented by the Gender Equality Law Center, filed a pregnancy discrimination claim against Rocket LLC, a small business, and the company’s two owners. She alleged her employers mocked her weight and criticized her diet during her pregnancy and terminated her employment. The complaint also alleged the company refused to either allow her to work from home for a few weeks or extend her leave until she was cleared to return to work in the office after giving birth. After investigation, LEB issued a probable cause determination. The Commission and the parties entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the employer to pay the complainant $34,000 in compensatory damages (backpay, emotional distress, and attorneys’ fees), attend training, create new policies and put up postings notifying employees of their rights under the NYC Human Rights Law with respect to pregnancy accommodation and other requirements of the law.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center Agrees to Overhaul Language and Disability Access Policies, Pays $25,500 to Patient Denied Sign Language Interpretation
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest filed a complaint against Jamaica Hospital Medical Center on behalf of a Deaf woman whose primary language is sign language and who was denied interpretation services when she went to the ER for severe stomach pain. After 8 hours, she ultimately checked herself out of the hospital without receiving treatment. After investigation, LEB issued a probable cause determination. The Commission, complainant and respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring the hospital to pay the complainant $22,500 in emotional distress damages and to overhaul its policies relating to language access, reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, and the provision of sign language interpreters in both emergent and appointment-based interactions with patients. Jamaica Hospital Medical Center will be conducting extensive training on these issues to its current and future staff as well as subjecting themselves to monitoring by the Commission for three years.

May 2018

Following Commission Cudit, CVS Reforms Policies to Comply With the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment and Fair Chance Act
In a Commission-initiated investigation following the dismissal of a public complaint, the Commission entered into a stipulation and order with CVS to remove references to credit history from its pre-employment forms and alter its criminal background check policy to fully comply with the Fair Chance Act. Candidates CVS would like to deny employment because of their criminal records will be contacted by phone to explain their conviction history and provide evidence of rehabilitation; will not be denied until after two levels of review; and will have 10 business days to appeal CVS’s decision.

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 $15,000 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.