National Origin

The Law

It is illegal to be denied a housing opportunity because of your national origin.

National origin refers to a person’s ancestry, birthplace, culture, or language. The City’s Human Rights Law bars discrimination based on the country where you or your ancestors came from, your ethnic identity (such as Hispanic, Puja, or Kurd), because you speak a foreign language, or because you appear to be from another country.

National Origin Discrimination

Discrimination based on national origin can also be race, creed, alienage or citizenship status, or color discrimination.

Discrimination means being treated differently. For example, a building owner or representative (such as a realtor or superintendent) is discriminating if they treat you differently because you or your family came from another country or you have a name or accent associated with a particular ethnic group.

These behaviors, policies, or practices could be evidence of discrimination:

  • Being asked to produce your green card or any document to verify your citizenship or immigration status;
  • Being asked, “Where were you born?” or “What is your religion?”
  • Being told “You will feel comfortable here because there are others like you in the building.”
  • Being told the ethnicity of the owner of a building to discourage you from applying. For example, a Palestinian family being told that the owner is Jewish.

The Law also prohibits retaliation if you file a discrimination complaint against someone, or act as a witness for someone else who files a complaint.

Your national origin should not discourage you from calling 311 to report substandard housing conditions. Code Enforcement Inspectors sent to check on your housing conditions are not allowed to treat you differently because of your ancestry. They will also not ask about your immigration status.

File a Complaint

If you believe you are the victim of housing discrimination, contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights by calling 311 or the Commission Infoline at (718) 722-3131.

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