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.

June/July 2019

Home Depot Undergoes Training, Revises Its Anti-Discrimination Policy, Makes Written Apology, and Pays Emotional Distress Damages to Complainant in Race Discrimination Case
A customer, who is Black, filed a complaint against Home Depot alleging that when she attempted to make a purchase at the retailer’s Bronx store, a cashier became upset and used racist language. The Commission, Complainant, and Respondent entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Respondent to pay the complainant emotional distress damages; train its staff on their obligations under the New York City Human Rights Law; and make a written apology to the Complainant. Over the course of the investigation, Respondent also revised and updated its anti-discrimination policies.

Morton Williams Supermarkets pays $22,500 in Damages in Sexual Harassment Case and Commits to Creating Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Sexual Harassment Policies and Training
A former employee filed a complaint against Morton Williams Supermarkets and a Morton Williams manager alleging that she was subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. Following the Law Enforcement Bureau’s investigation, the Commission and the parties entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Morton Williams to pay $12,500 in emotional distress damages to the Complainant, pay a civil penalty of $10,000 to the City of New York, conduct in-person anti-discrimination training for all managerial employees, create a policy detailing its obligations under the New York City Human Rights Law, which must include policies and procedures for the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, and post copies of the Commission’s Notice of Rights, Stop Sexual Harassment Act Notice, and Pregnancy Employment Notice at all of its locations in New York City.

Taylor Recycling Center and Its Successor Company Vee Recycling Inc. Pays $60,000 in Emotional Distress Damages and $50,000 in Civil Penalties to Settle Sexual Harassment Claim and Individually-Named Owner Must Perform 50 Hours of Community Service
A former employee filed a gender-based harassment claim against her employer, Taylor Recycling Center, Inc. (“Taylor Recycling”), a recycling company, alleging egregious claims of sexual harassment by the owner that escalated from unwelcomed and harassing comments to forcible physical touching. Taylor Recycling has ceased operations.  The settlement was reached with Taylor Recycling and  its successor company, Vee Recycling Inc. (“Vee”) to pay $60,000 in emotional distress damages to the complainant, $50,000 in civil penalties to the Commission, to create and implement a written policy detailing its obligations under the New York City Human Rights Law, implement procedures for the prevention and detection of unlawful discriminatory practices and a meaningful and responsive procedure for investigating complaints, and display postings outlining its obligations under the New York City Human Rights Law, including the Stop Sexual Harassment Act Notice in English and Spanish. In addition, the individually named Respondent-owner must perform fifty (50) hours of community service working with organizations that provide services to the homeless population.

Gansevoort Hotel Agrees to Pay a Black Customer Who Alleged Race Discrimination $10,000 in Damages to Complainant $5,000 in Civil Penalties to the City of New York
A Black customer who was denied entry to a hotel bar, even though her white friends had previously been allowed in, alleged race discrimination. The hotel agreed to pay $10,000 to the customer, $5,000 in civil penalties to the City of New York, and conduct anti-discrimination training for all staff.

NYC Administration for Children’s Services Settles Pregnancy Discrimination and Sexual Harassments Claims by Former Employee, Pays $23,000 in Damages, and Agrees to Monitoring of Sexual Harassment Complaints
Complainant, a former special officer at a secure facility administered by the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (“ACS”), filed a complaint alleging that she endured sexual harassment by a supervisor while on the job, that he tried to terminate her employment when she became pregnant, and that ACS failed to properly accommodate her pregnancy. The Law Enforcement Bureau conducted an investigation and found evidence that a former supervisor may have sexually harassment complainant and attempted to terminate her employment because of her pregnancy. The Commission, Complainant, and Respondents entered into a settlement agreement whereby ACS agreed to pay Complainant $23,000 in emotional distress damages, as well as the following affirmative relief at the relevant facility: the Law Enforcement Bureau will monitor internal complaints of sexual harassment for one (1) year; the managers and directors of the facility will take the Commission’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Training; ACS will distribute the Commission’s Stop Sexual Harassment materials to the facility’s employees; and ACS will post the Commission’s Notice of Rights, Pregnancy Accommodations at Work, and “It’s Not Just a Joke, It’s Sexual Harassment” posters throughout the facility.

Tomba Realty, a Bronx Landlord Pays Tenant Emotional Distress Damages and Institutes Lifetime Preferential Rent for Threatening Eviction for Emotional Support Animal
Tomba Realty, a Bronx landlord, has agreed to compensate a complainant living with disabilities after it threatened to raise his rent and evict him because he has an emotional support animal. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau reviewed communications that Tomba Realty had sent to the complainant and determined that they were in clear violation of the New York City Human Rights Law, which requires landlords to reasonably accommodate emotional support and service animals even if there is a “no pets” clause in the lease. Tomba and the complainant entered into a conciliation agreement requiring Tomba to pay the complainant $6,000; make complainant’s nearly $500 preferential rent credit permanent; pay a civil penalty of $2,500 to the City of New York; allow the Commission to monitor its evictions for one (1) year; put up Notice of Rights posters; and require that the building’s property manager attend a training on the New York City Human Rights Law.

 

April/May 2019

The Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation Settles a Fair Chance Act Claim, Paying $6,000 in Damages and Agreeing to Change its Anti-Discrimination Policies and Train its Employees on the NYCHRL
The Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation, a non-profit, settles a case alleging violations of the Fair Chance Act.  The employer paid the Complainant $6,000 in damages, agreed to conduct anti-discrimination trainings for all employees annually, make extensive revisions to its anti-discrimination policies and Employee Handbook, and display postings notifying employees of their rights under the NYCHRL.
 
Mitchell Lama co-op, Third Housing, Electchester Development in Fresh Meadows, Queens Pays $30,000 in Damages and Penalties to Settle Disability Discrimination and Associational Discrimination Claims; Agrees to Drop Eviction Case, Create NYCHRL Policies, and Undergo Monitoring
An owner of a unit in a cooperative apartment building removed carpeting throughout the unit because it exacerbated her child’s allergies, placing the family in violation of the rules of the housing cooperative, Third Housing Inc. Corporation.  After the co-op initiated an eviction case against the family, Complainant filed a disability discrimination and associational discrimination complaint on behalf of herself and her child alleging that the co-op failed to reasonably accommodate the child’s health condition. To settle the claim, the parties entered into a conciliation agreement requiring that the co-op waive the carpeting rule upon Complainant’s installation of alternate soundproof flooring. Additionally, the co-op will discontinue the housing court case with prejudice and adjust the family’s maintenance balance to remove approximately $10,000 in related legal fees; develop policies and train board members and staff regarding obligations under the NYCHRL; make postings of the Commission’s “Fair Housing” poster; undergo two (2) years of monitoring; and pay $20,000 in emotional distress damages to Complainants and civil penalties of $10,000 to the City of New York.
 
99 Flavor Taste Restaurant to Install Accessible Barbecue Tables at Three Locations
Complainant, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, alleged that Respondent restaurant failed to accommodate her by not providing her seating that allowed her to enjoy cooking Korean barbecue with her son for his birthday. She was forced instead to sit far from the center of the table and blocked the passageway between tables, which was humiliating for her. As a settlement in the matter, Respondent agreed to install—at a significant cost—new customized Korean barbecue tables at all three of its restaurants that will permit those using wheelchairs to participate in the table barbecue cooking like all other patrons. Moreover, Respondent paid Complainant $4,500 in emotional distress damages, will train all employees on reasonable accommodations under the City Human Rights Law, and will post notices of patrons’ rights under the City Human Rights Law.
 
One of Nation’s Largest Tenant Application Processors Offers Option of Using an Independent Taxpayer Identification Numbers in Lieu of Social Security Number and Landlord, Rose Associates, Who Insisted on an Additional Security Deposit, Agrees to Two Months Free Rent
Complainant, an immigrant, alleged that Respondent, Rose Associates, a major NYC landlord, discriminated against her based on her immigration status in requiring her to obtain additional security for her apartment because her social security number “was too new.” In settling the case, Respondent agreed to provide Complainant two months of free rent (a $5,400 value), reimburse her $2,500 for fees incurred as a result of the security requirement, and require one of the nation’s largest tenant application processors to offer prospective tenants the option of using an independent taxpayer identification number (ITIN) in lieu of a social security number. It has also trained its employees on the requirements for landlords under the City Human Rights Law.
 
Adorable Pillows Pays Full Back Pay, Emotional Distress Damages, Civil Penalties, Two Years of Monitoring, Training and NYCHRL Postings to Settle a Pregnancy Discrimination Case
Complainant was pregnant when she worked at a Brooklyn pillow factory, and alleged that after suffering a seconds-long dizzy spell due to her pregnancy, Respondents terminated her employment in violation of the City Human Rights Law instead of allowing her to continue working. In settling the case, Respondents agreed to pay Complainant her full back pay of about $8,300; emotional distress damages of $7,500; and civil penalties of $7,500. Respondents will also train all employees and principals on pregnancy discrimination and an employer’s obligations under the City Human Rights Law; will post notices to employees in English and Spanish of their rights under the Human Rights Law; revise its anti-discrimination and reasonable accommodation policies; and consent to two years of monitoring by the Commission of their handling of requests for reasonable accommodations.
 
NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Settles a Pregnancy Discrimination Case, Paying $28,750 in Back Pay and Emotional Distress Damages
The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs settled a pregnancy, gender-based discrimination failure to accommodate claim. The allegations were that the  employer failed to accommodate requests made related to her pregnancy, failed to engage in a cooperative dialogue and eventually terminated her employment because of pregnancy related absences. As part of the conciliation agreement, the employer paid $28,750 in back pay and emotional distress damages, agreed to attend anti-discrimination training, submit records of all requests for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy and/or disability to the Commission for a period of twelve months, and post a Notice of Rights  about pregnancy accommodations, sexual harassment, and other requirements under the NYCHRL.

February/March 2019

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.

January 2019

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.