Assistance for the Respondent

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1. I received a Complaint in the mail, what does it mean?

If you have received a complaint fromthe Law Enforcement Bureau (LEB) naming you as a Respondent, this means that someone has alleged that you have committed an unlawful discriminatory practice in violation of the NYC Human Rights Law.

2. What do I do if I received a Complaint? How do I respond?

You are required to respond to the Complaint within 30 days by filing a verified Answer. This means that you must submit a document that specifically admits, denies, or explains each of the facts alleged in the Complaint, unless you do not have knowledge of the answer, and if that is the case, you must state it. This document must by signed and sworn to in front of a notary public.

You should also submit a position statement, which is a letter describing your side of the story. You can include evidence that you would like LEB to consider.

For more guidance, consult section 8-111 of the NYC Human Rights Law and the Commission’s Rules of Practice.

3. What happens if I do not respond?

If you do not respond, your failure to answer will be held against you and you may be found to be in default, which could result in a decision against you even if you do not appear. You may also face additional penalties for failure to participate in the process.

4. How do I attend a training to learn more about my obligations?

5. Can a lawyer represent me in responding to a claim against me?

You do not need a lawyer, although you may have a lawyer represent you if you want. LEB cannot provide a lawyer or pay for your lawyer. If you would like to find a lawyer to represent you, please ask for a referral.

6. What happens after I submit my Answer?

In most cases, there will be further investigation. The investigation may involve interviewing you, interviewing witnesses, requesting documents, or other actions.

7. Where can I get more information about the process?

8. Will there by a chance to settle before a trial?

New York City Human Rights Law § 8-115 permits the Commission to attempt resolution of complaints filed with the agency through the use of mediation.  The Commission’s Office of Mediation and Conflict Resolution (“OMCR”), independent from any other Commission office, provides parties with mediation services, at no cost, to help facilitate resolution.  In mediation, a neutral third party known as a mediator helps the parties reach a voluntary, negotiated resolution. A mediator does not take sides or decide who is right or wrong.  Instead, the mediator is impartial and neutral.

Any party may request mediation instead of continuing with the investigation or litigation after the Verified Complaint, Answer(s)/Position Statement(s), and Rebuttal have been filed with LEB.  To be eligible for mediation, all parties, including LEB, must agree. Mediation may also be available when LEB is attempting resolution through the use of conciliation or after LEB issues a finding of probable cause.  If any party is interested in pursuing mediation, they are requested to contact the LEB attorney.      

If a case is resolved in mediation through OMCR, the parties will sign a settlement agreement, and LEB will close the case without further investigation.  In the event the case does not settle and the mediation is terminated, OMCR will refer the case back to LEB for further processing. 

Even if the case is not referred to mediation at OMCR, throughout the investigation phase, the LEB attorney may also attempt to negotiate a resolution of the case. This is called “Conciliation.” Sometimes, LEB may determine that a proposed resolution is sufficient to close the case, even if one party disagrees.

9. What are the possible results of the investigation?

LEB may issue a Probable Cause Determination, a No Probable Cause Determination, or a Dismissal for Administrative Convenience.  

Get information about each of these results

10. What are the possible results if the Commission determines that I violated the Law?

The Commissioner can order a respondent to cease and desist from engaging in the unlawful conduct; reinstate an employee; provide an accommodation; pay for lost wages; and pay for emotional distress damages, among other remedies. The Commissioner may also assess civil penalties (paid to the City of New York) of up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton or malicious conduct, as well as require respondents to take other actions such as training for managers and employees.

11. How do I appeal a Commission finding of probable cause?

There is no right to review a finding of probable cause.  If, after a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issues a report and recommendation, you have the right to submit written comments and objections to that recommended decision and order to the Commission’s Office of General Counsel.

Get information about the investigation process

12. Is the complaint against me available in the public record?

Members of the public may obtain a copy of the complaint through a request made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law after LEB issues a determination.  If a case proceeds to a hearing at OATH, the judge’s decisions and recommendations in the case, which may refer to the facts of the case, could be published on the Internet.  The Commission’s final Decision and Order could also be published on the Internet.

13. I need interpretation in order to participate in the investigation, what should I do?

We have staff members who speak many languages. If staff members who speak your language are not available, we will obtain an interpreter either on the phone or in person depending on the stage of the case.

14. I need an accommodation for a disability in order to participate in the investigation, what should I do?

Please contact LEB at (212) 306-7450 if you need an accommodation in order to attend your appointment or hearing or speak to the attorney investigating the case against you about any accommodations you need in order to fully participate in the process.

15. What if I want to report discrimination, but I do not want to be involved?

LEB has the ability to initiate its own investigations. If you want to provide information about discrimination, but do not want to be involved in the investigation, LEB will take the information and consider initiating its own investigation into the situation you have reported. Whether or not to pursue the investigation is within the discretion of the agency.

16. Is my complaint available in the public record?

Members of the public may obtain a copy of the complaint through a request made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law after LEB issues a determination. If your case proceeds to a hearing at OATH, the judge’s decisions and recommendations in the case, which may refer to the facts of your case, could be published on the Internet. The Commission’s final Decision and Order could also be published on the Internet.

17. Are there any costs or fees connected to filing a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights?

No. There are no fees or other charges that an individual must pay in connection to filing a discrimination complaint with LEB.

18. I need interpretation in order to file a complaint, what should I do?

We have staff members who speak many languages. If staff members who speak your language are not available, we will obtain an interpreter either on the phone or in person depending on the stage of the case.

19. I need an accommodation for a disability in filing a complaint or attending an appointment or hearing, what should I do?

Please contact LEB at (212) 306-7450 if you need an accommodation in order to attend your appointment or hearing. If you have already filed a complaint with LEB, please speak to the attorney investigating your case about any accommodations you need in order to fully participate in the process.