Complaint Process - Text

A complaint filed with the Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (LEB) starts with investigation by LEB. Before there is a final order, there are several additional stages involving other governmental entities and judicial bodies independent from LEB:

Intake: An attorney or investigator in the Law Enforcement Bureau (LEB) will interview you, gather information, and review your documents. If what happened to you is covered by the NYC Human Rights Law, the attorney will draft a "Complaint." In the complaint, you are called the "Complainant" and the person or entity that you are stating discriminated against you is called the "Respondent." If you have an attorney, the attorney may file a complaint with the Commission directly.

Non-Jurisdictional: If LEB determines after your intake that you do not have a claim that is covered by the NYC Human Rights Law, you will be given referrals to other agencies or organizations that may be able to assist you.

Complaint is filed: When the complaint is ready, you will review the complaint and sign it. Then the complaint will be sent to the Respondent. The Respondent has 30 days to respond by filing an "Answer."

Investigation: After the Respondent answers your complaint, LEB will investigate further. You will be asked to respond to the Respondent's position, called a "Rebuttal." The investigation may include interviewing you, your witnesses, and the Respondent's witnesses; requesting documents from you and the Respondent; or other actions. You should give all documents and any other pieces of evidence to the attorney investigating your case.

Mediation: LEB may invite you and the Respondent to discuss a possible resolution to your case, called "Mediation" at our Office of Mediation and Conflict Resolution (called "OMCR"). You both must agree to participate and be represeted by an attorney before Mediation can be scheduled. If the parties can agree on how to settle the case, the LEB will close your case.

Withdrawal: If you settle your case privately with the Respondent or decide that you no longer want to pursue your case, you can request to withdraw the Complaint.

Conciliation: If LEB believes its investigation is leading towards a finding of probable cause, it may attempt to conciliate, or settle, your case. If LEB succeeds in conciliating your case, the conciliation may include money damages for you, and Respondent may be required to pay a fine, conduct training, revise its policies, make structural changes to promote equity, or take other restorative accountability measures.

Dismissal: You can ask LEB to dismiss your Complaint if you want to file the same claim in court instead of proceeding through the Commission process. LEB may also dismiss your case if it cannot get in touch with you, if you do not cooperate with the investigation, or if it seems unlikely that continued investigation will lead to a finding of probable cause. You can write to the Commission’s Office of General Counsel to request an appeal of the dismissal within thirty days of service of the dismissal notice.

Determination: After the investigation concludes, LEB issues a determination in your case. There are two options: LEB may determine that there is “probable cause” that discrimination occurred or “no probable cause” that discrimination occurred.

Probable Cause: If LEB finds probable cause for discrimination, you will receive a notice and your case will be referred to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH).

Conciliation: LEB will first attempt to conciliate, or settle, your case. If LEB succeeds in conciliating your case, the conciliation may include money damages for you, and Respondent may be required to pay a fine, conduct training, revise its policies, make structural changes to promote equity, or take other restorative accountability measures.

Trial: An LEB attorney will litigate your case at OATH. It is important to know that the LEB attorney does not represent you, but instead represents the interests of the City. Your interests and the interests of the City may be the same in most instances, but might also differ in some ways. If you want to be able to present different evidence and arguments than LEB, you may “intervene” in the case at or before the first conference with the Judge is held. If you want to have an attorney represent you at the proceedings, your attorney must intervene.

Report and Recommendation: The Judge’s Report and Recommendation, along with the hearing record and the parties’ post-hearing submissions, if any, are sent to the Commission’s Office of General Counsel for review.

Final Decision and Order: The Office of the Chair of the Commission reviews the Report and Recommendation and the hearing record and issues a Decision and Order. Either party may seek review of the Decision and Order in New York State Supreme Court within thirty days of the issuance of the Decision and Order.

No Probable Cause: If LEB does not find probable cause, you will receive a document called a “Determination” which explains LEB’s decision. You can write to the Commission’s Office of General Counsel to request an appeal of the Determination within thirty days of service of the notice.

Appeal Process: LEB may invite you and the Respondent to discuss a possible resolution to your case, called "Mediation" at our Office of Mediation and Conflict Resolution (called "OMCR"). You both must agree to participate before Mediation can be scheduled. If the parties can agree on how to settle the case, the LEB will close your case.

Learn More about the Complaint Process

Video: "How to File a Discrimination Complaint"

Audio Description: Animated video with voiceovers describing the Commission's complaint process while corresponding imagery is sketched on a whiteboard.