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.
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.
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
Landlords Pay $15,000 in Damages and $2,500 in Civil Penalties for Disparaging and Rejecting Couple Based on Race
A couple (“Complainants”) filed a complaint against the owners of one two-unit building in Brooklyn (“Respondents”), alleging that Respondents denied them an apartment on the basis of race. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau investigated and issued a Probable Cause determination, finding that a Respondent 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 in Civil Penalties, attend training regarding the New York City Human Rights Law, and make postings of the Commission’s “Fair Housing, It’s the Law” notice 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.