Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis 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.
“In February, my testimony focused primarily on the ways in which the State Human Rights Law could be amended to align itself more closely with the New York City Human Rights Law, giving the state law more teeth to hold harassers and those that enable them accountable and to afford more victims the legal protections they need to pursue justice... Today, I am here to briefly discuss the work of the Commission’s Gender-Based Harassment Unit, and several recent developments in the Commission’s efforts to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.”
“February marked my four-year anniversary as Commissioner and Chairperson at the Commission, and I am, as always, proud to share some of what we’ve accomplished at the Commission in the past year. Our commitment to holding up and supporting communities under relentless attack by white nationalists or under federal policies only deepened in 2018. We continue to be steadfast in our work to protect the rights of all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable, in this deeply troubling climate.”
The NYC Commission on Human Rights before the Committee on Public Safety jointly with the Committee on the Justice System, the Committee on Civil and Human Rights, and the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing
“By statute, the Commission has two main functions. The first is as a civil law enforcement agency, enforcing the City’s anti-discrimination law, called the City Human Rights Law, one of the most comprehensive anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws in the country. The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau (LEB) investigates complaints of discrimination from the public, initiates its own investigations on behalf of the City, and utilizes its in-house testing program to help identify entities breaking the law… The second main function of the Commission is to perform community outreach and provide education on the City Human Rights Law and human rights-related issues, which is why the Commission also has a Community Relations Bureau comprised of Community Service Centers in each of the City’s five boroughs.”
“There is a growing recognition that the 'severe or pervasive' standard is insufficient and outdated, and that broader standards, like that of New York City, could be a better model elsewhere. In fact, lawmakers from other jurisdictions, including the California State Senate and the U.S. Senate, have sought our feedback and expertise in exploring alternative standards and crafting sexual harassment legislation. If there is any change you may consider today, I strongly urge you to reject the 'severe or pervasive' standard for harassment claims of all kinds – including race-based harassment, religious-based harassment, and every other form of protected category – and move to a broader standard.”
“I am pleased to be here to testify on the Commission’s testing and investigatory work in the context of Commission-initiated investigations and enforcement actions. The Commission has the power to initiate its own investigations and resulting enforcement actions when entities are suspected of maintaining or engaging in discriminatory policies or practices. In addition to filing complaints and testing, both of which are further described below, the Commission sends cease-and-desist letters and also uses a range of investigative methods, such as requests for information on policies and practices, demands for documents, and interviews of key witnesses. Cease-and-desist letters are a relatively new tool the Commission has been deploying with great success. The letters notify the wrong-doer that the actions taken may be a violation of the New York City Human Rights Law, demand the discriminatory actions cease, and demand that specific actions be taken, including, for example, restoring a victim of discrimination to the status they were in before the discriminatory action.”