The Commissioner and other members of the New York City Commission on Human Rights senior staff periodically testify before the City Council on issues involving the Commission and the NYC Human Rights Law.December 12, 2018
"As you are aware ... the Commission surveyed over 3,100 Muslim, Arab, South Asian, Jewish, and Sikh (MASAJS) New Yorkers about their experiences with discrimination and harassment. The survey results were published in a report earlier this year. The report found high levels of bias harassment, discrimination, and physical assaults experienced by MASAJS communities leading up to and following the 2016 presidential election. The report also revealed [high rates of depression] associated with the survey takers’ experiences with discrimination and harassment … As a result of these findings, the Commission has been collaborating with our colleagues at Thrive NYC to share the information we gathered from the report and to cross train staff."
“I am pleased to be here to discuss Intro. 863, which seeks to protect employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual and reproductive health decisions. The bill defines reproductive and sexual health decisions to include ‘any decision by the employee to receive services which are arranged for or offered or provided to individuals relating to the reproductive system and its functions, including, but not limited to, fertility-related medical procedures, family planning services and counseling, including, but not limited to, access to all medically approved birth control drugs and supplies, emergency contraception, sterilization procedures, pregnancy testing, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, abortion procedures and HIV testing and counseling.’”
"Combating sexual harassment, particularly in the workplace, but also across all areas of jurisdiction, has been a core focus of the Commission’s work since Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis took the helm of the agency. For example, in 2015, the Commission issued its highest civil penalty in the history of the Commission in a sexual harassment case, $250,000 – the maximum allowable under the statute – with an additional over $400,000 in damages to the complainant."
"After the 2016 Presidential election, in late 2016 and early 2017, the Commission convened a series of roundtable conversations with community leaders and organizations, including immigrants’ rights advocates, workers’ rights groups, LGBTQ advocates, faith leaders, and racial justice advocates. As we witnessed the rise of hateful rhetoric on the federal level, we observed an increase in bias incidents nationally and in New York City, and organizations reported increases in calls and complaints. The Commission determined that an affirmative survey of MASAJS communities in New York City was needed to better understand what was happening on the ground."
"The City Human Rights Law protects against discrimination based on age in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Unlike the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, there is no threshold age one must be to be protected under the law. Over the past two years, the Commission has filed 112 complaints on behalf of individuals alleging age discrimination. The vast majority of those cases are in the employment context. And since 2015, the Commission has filed nearly 500 cases on behalf of New Yorkers 55 years and older, alleging discrimination across many protected categories including disability, religion, race, caregiver status, and others."
"The Commission supports Intros 879 and 905 to the extent they are consistent with our legal enforcement guidance. However, both bills are drafted in ways that would actually provide less protection than is currently available under the law. If that is truly the intention of the bills, the Commission is interested in understanding the Council’s reasoning behind those limitations, as we are generally not supportive of proposals that would limit current application of the law."
"During [Commissioner Malalis'] tenure, the Commission has consistently championed legislation like the two bills being considered today and other mechanisms that afford the law’s protections to more New Yorkers, clarify the agency’s expansive interpretation of the law consistent with its construction provision and restoration acts, and generally further the goals of combating discrimination and harassment in key areas of City living. The two bills being considered today expand protections for people who seek reasonable accommodations by protecting them from retaliation by employers, housing providers and providers of public accommodations; and clarify the broad reach of employment protections to independent contractors."
"February marked my third year as Commissioner and Chairperson at the Commission, and I am excited to be with you today to share some of what we’ve accomplished over the course of 2017. In a year that saw the City, like jurisdictions across the country, attempting to orient itself to a new and troubling federal reality, I am happy to report that the Commission has continued to build upon its legacy of leadership in civil and human rights, and has fought, every day, to meet the challenges of our times."
"Over the past three years, under my leadership, the Commission has been particularly aggressive on sexual harassment cases. Gender-based discrimination is consistently one of the most common forms of employment discrimination the Commission investigates. In 2017, claims of gender-based discrimination were the top discrimination area of complaint in employment, with 117 claims, or 17% of all employment-related claims. In the last two years, sexual harassment claims at the Commission increased by 43 percent over the previous two years. Since 2015, the Commission has secured over $1.4 million in penalties and damages for sexual harassment cases."
"I want to thank California State Senator Hannah Beth Jackson and her staff for inviting me to speak about the sexual harassment standard in New York City, and I’m honored to testify today before the California Senate Judiciary Committee and Select Committee on Women, Work & Families at this joint informational hearing re-examining the legal standard for sexual harassment in the State of California."