In the first year of Mayor Bloomberg's administration, the Commission
far exceeded expectations by successfully accomplishing its primary
goals. We eliminated a 5,000 case backlog by thoroughly reviewing,
investigating and reaching a just resolution for every case. And,
we restructured our community relations offices and programs while
integrating them with the work of our legal staff. These major achievements
allowed the Commission to focus on enhancing services to the community
in 2003. Our Law Enforcement and Community Relations Bureaus work
together, each complementing the other.
the Commission's Law Enforcement Bureau increased its proactive
investigations in the areas of housing and public accommodations
to uncover violations of the NYC Human Rights Law. In the area
of employment discrimination, the Commission began an analysis
in late 2003 to assess the number of minorities in the advertising
industry, especially in managerial positions. The Commission will
weigh the merits of a larger investigation in 2004 based upon
the results of informational subpoenas.
The Law Enforcement
Bureau has negotiated over 150 modifications for individuals with
disabilities and obtained over 1 million dollars for victims of
discrimination in 2003.
increased its focus on early case assessment, allowing us to build
the strongest possible case by identifying witnesses and securing
documentary evidence at the outset. This approach enables the
Commission to settle a higher proportion of cases at an increased
dollar value. In 2003, early evaluation allowed us to intervene
and obtain benefits for complainants on over 200 cases prior to
the filing of a complaint, avoiding lengthy litigation.
Policy" for resolving new cases, instituted in the Commission's
first year, is a linchpin to ensuring that the Commission will
continue to operate efficiently and will never find itself with
an immobilizing backlog again.
opened its first permanent Community Service Center in Staten
Island in September. We now have a field office in each borough
offering the Commission's many programs and services. Staten Island
also joins our Manhattan office in having an attorney on site
to handle the intake and investigation of complaints. This pilot
program increases the Commission's services to the community.
As part of the
Commission's community education efforts, the Community Relations
Bureau continued the Immigrant Employment Rights Program, informing
immigrant employees and employers about their protections and obligations
they have under the NYC Human Rights Law. The Community Relations
Bureau has also developed the Peer Mediation Program to train middle
and high school students to help resolve conflicts that arise in
their schools. We have also expanded Project Equal Access and Pre-Purchase
and Mortgage Counseling Services.
is collaborating with Princeton and Northwestern Universities to
study employment discrimination faced by the formerly incarcerated.
This important study will also include the variables of race and
education on employment opportunities and identify industries and
employers who hire the formerly incarcerated.
Commissioner, I have seen how the NYC Human Rights Law can work
for New Yorkers. The Law ensures equal rights for all the people
of our City whether it is the disabled veteran who can now leave
his apartment because a ramp has been installed outside his building,
the minority couple who was able to purchase their dream home after
a real estate broker refused to show it to them, or the reinstatement
of a pregnant woman's job after she was illegally fired.
I have also
learned that to use the Law, you have to know about the Law. We
will continue to increase community awareness of the Commission's
programs and the many protections this vibrant law offers.