2019 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.
In Fair Chance Act Case, Montefiore Medical Center Pays $196,624 in Damages After Discriminating Against Employee on the Basis of his Criminal Conviction History
Complainant worked as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the Division of Substance Abuse at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine before it was acquired by Respondent Montefiore Medical Center. As part of the acquisition, Complainant underwent a “re-hiring” process, upon which time Respondent Montefiore discovered his felony conviction from the early 1990s during a background check. Respondent Montefiore refused to re-hire Complainant on the basis of his prior conviction, and he filed a complaint with the Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) alleging discrimination on the basis of his criminal conviction history, as well as other procedural violations under the Fair Chance Act of the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”). LEB’s extensive investigation confirmed that Respondent Montefiore had failed to appropriately consider all of the Article 23-A factors under the New York State Corrections Law, including evidence of Complainant’s rehabilitation, whether the conviction directly related to Complainant’s fitness to perform his duties, which he had been performing successfully and without issue to date, and whether he posed an unreasonable risk to safety to members of the public or staff. Following LEB’s investigation, the Commission, Complainant, and Respondent Montefiore entered into a settlement agreement whereby Respondent Montefiore created a comprehensive Fair Chance Act policy to properly assess applicants or employees with criminal conviction histories, made postings at its New York City locations of the Commission’s General Know Your Rights information card, and agreed to provide trainings on the NYCHRL and the Fair Chance Act to relevant human resources and management employees. In addition, Respondent Montefiore agreed to pay Complainant $111,624 in backpay damages, which included overtime pay, $35,000 in emotional distress damages, and a $50,000 civil penalty to the City of New York.
Marketing Company Crosstown Solutions Creates Comprehensive Policies on Criminal Record Discrimination and other NYCHRL Protections
An applicant for employment filed a complaint alleging that Respondents failed to properly follow the Fair Chance Act process of the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”). The parties entered into a private settlement agreement shortly afterward, but the Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) proceeded to conduct an audit of Respondents’ anti-discrimination and background check policies given public interest concerns. In its policy review, LEB identified compliance issues and areas of improvement. Respondents thereafter signed a Stipulation and Order agreeing to comprehensive policy reform. Specifically, Respondents created guidelines for conducting background checks and evaluating employment candidates with criminal records, created a reasonable accommodation policy, and revised their anti-discrimination policies to fully comply with the NYCHRL. Respondents also committed to training and had their background check vendor revise its authorization form to comply with the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act.
Non-Profit Organization Implements Non-Discriminatory Admissions and Housing Policies and Agrees To Accept Housing Applicants Regardless of Age or Source of Income
A former resident of Respondent St. Mary’s Residence of New York, Inc., a non-profit women’s dormitory-style housing accommodation located in Manhattan, filed a Complaint with the Commission alleging that after losing her job and receiving a public assistance shelter allowance, St. Mary’s would not accept her shelter allowance for her rent, and then moved to evict her. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) conducted an investigation and concluded that there was probable cause to credit the Complainant’s allegations that Respondents violated the law by maintaining a policy that it would not accept certain lawful sources of income, including government vouchers, and referred the matter to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. Based on information uncovered in LEB’s investigation, the Commission joined the Complaint to allege that Respondents also maintained a policy that discriminated on the basis of age, restricting residency to those between 18 and 40 years of age. During the pendency of the investigation, Respondents began accepting all lawful sources of income from residents. The Commission subsequently entered into a settlement agreement with Respondents, requiring all individuals involved in the administration of the housing program to be trained in the New York City Human Rights Law, post the Commission’s notice of rights in conspicuous places in the residence, and maintain certain records regarding their application process. Respondents also drafted and implemented a new, non-discriminatory admissions and housing policy.
Temp Agency Settles After Recruiter Violated Fair Chance Act by Ejecting a Job Applicant From a Job Interview Because of Criminal History
A job applicant filed a complaint against a temp agency alleging that he was ejected from a job interview because of his criminal history. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”) conducted an investigation and concluded that there was probable cause to credit the complainant’s allegations that the recruiter had violated the Fair Chance Act in automatically rejecting all job applicants with any criminal history. The Commission, the complainant and the agency entered into a pay the complainant $7,500 in back pay, a civil penalty of $15,000 to the City of New York, and to implement new training and policies.
Breather.com Pays $7,500 in Civil Penalties and Trains its New York City Workforce to Resolve Commission-initiated Fair Chance Act Complaint
The Commission filed a complaint against the website Breather.com when, numerous times on three websites over the past year, the company published two ads for cleaner positions stating that a criminal background check would be required. LEB’s investigation discovered, however, that Breather had only conducted background checks after a conditional offer of employment and hired all applicants who had criminal records. To resolve the complaint, Breather agreed to pay $7,500 in civil penalties; train its New York City employees on the entire NYCHRL; separately train the person who evaluates candidates’ criminal records on the Fair Chance Act; generate employment policies compliant with the NYCHRL; and add the NYCHRL’s legal notices to its company intranet.Commission Orders Landlord to Institute Measures to Ensure Accessibility for Tenants with Disabilities After Tenant Settles Discrimination Claim with $20,000 Buy-Out
A tenant, a person with disabilities who uses a wheelchair for mobility, lived on the third floor of a walk-up building without elevators or stairlifts. He requested accommodations and filed a complaint against his landlord the landlord failed to provide any modifications. After investigation, LEB conferred with Complainant and arranged for a $20,000 buyout of Complainant’s lease because Respondents had no units that were accessible by ramp or at ground level. The Commission also signed a Stipulation and Order with Respondents to secure policy changes, postings, and staff training.
The Commission Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Case with Cepin Food Corporation
Complainant, who worked as a cashier, filed a complaint against Cepin Food Corporation d/b/a California Fruit Market and its owner alleging pregnancy discrimination. Complainant alleged that shortly after disclosing her pregnancy, Respondents reduced her scheduled hours, began treating her in a hostile manner, and ultimately terminated her employment. LEB investigated the allegations and found that Complainant was subject to adverse employment actions on the basis of her pregnancy. LEB issued a determination of probable cause and referred the case to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. The parties subsequently entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondents to pay a total settlement amount of $28,000. Specifically, Respondents agreed to pay Complainant $17,000 in emotional distress damages and $5,500 in back pay and $5,500 to the City in civil penalties. Respondents also agreed to attend a training on the New York City Human Rights Law and place the Commission’s notice of rights and notice concerning pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in a conspicuous workplace location. Landlord Pays $80,000 in Damages for Refusing to Accept Applicant’s SEPS Voucher; Agrees to Adopt Model Tenant Screening Policies, Conduct Trainings, Make Postings, and Submit to Monitoring
A prospective tenant and the Commission jointly filed a complaint alleging that Respondent, the owner of three buildings containing affordable units, refused to accept Complainant’s SEPS Voucher and denied her housing application accordingly. After filing, Respondent promptly expressed a desire to resolve the case and cooperated fully in the Commission’s investigation. The Commission’s investigation revealed that Respondent had an unlawful policy of refusing to accept SEPS Vouchers, and that a total of two individuals, including Complainant, had been denied pursuant to that policy. Respondent accepted many other Voucher Recipients, however, including those with Section 8 and HASA Vouchers. The Commission, Complainant, and Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondent to pay $45,000 in emotional distress and lost housing opportunity damages to Complainant and $35,000 in civil penalties. Respondent also agreed to adopt model policies regarding tenant screening, reasonable accommodations, and the use of criminal history information in making housing decisions, to train all employees with managerial authority or with job duties related to reviewing applications, and to post the Commission’s Fair Housing poster in all buildings in New York City.