Law Enforcement Bureau
The Commission's Law Enforcement Bureau (LEB)
enforces the NYC Human Rights Law. LEB is responsible for the intake,
investigation, mediation and prosecution of complaints alleging
violations of the Law.
By early 2003, the Commission successfully eliminated a backlog
of nearly 5,000 cases by thoroughly reviewing the merits of each
case. The number of cases resolved for 2003 totaled 1,381, leaving
the Commission with a caseload of over 500 cases. The majority
of cases in the Commission's inventory are now less than one year
old as compared to 2002 when 80% of the Commission's cases were
older than one year.
In 2003, the Commission filed 383 new complaints. These new complaints
were in addition to the 210 cases that were quickly resolved through
pre-complaint intervention. An example of one such intervention
involved a senior citizen employed by a maintenance company, who
was illegally terminated and replaced by a younger worker. As
a result of a successful intervention, the man was rehired the
following day. The Commission also worked with the maintenance
company to formulate an anti-discrimination policy. If a complaint
had been filed, the complainant would have been out of work for
months. Such interventions bring complainants a just resolution,
while avoiding what could be lengthy litigation.
The Commission's increased focus on early complaint
investigation begins with a thorough intake interview and identification
of the legal issues. Comprehensive case assessment at the earliest
stage of the case, when the facts are freshest, provides a greater
ability to gather evidence and identify witnesses. This new approach
is directly responsible for the higher proportion of settlements
and probable cause findings this year.
LEB also focused on resolving
the Commission's oldest cases. The age of these cases and the difficulty
in locating important documents and witnesses make them very difficult
to resolve. The Commission makes every effort to investigate and
resolve these old complaints. The Commission obtained in excess
of $228,000 for complainants who had cases pending at the agency
for more than 10 years.
Prior to the beginning
of the new administration, over 1,500 cases were seven years or
older. That number dropped dramatically to 255 by the end of 2002
and declined again to 44 cases by the end of 2003. The number of
cases older than seven years dropped to 39 at the time of this report.
As the Pending Cases graph indicates, the
Commission had more than seven times the number of pending cases
before the start of the new administration, as compared to the end
The Commission has the authority to obtain cash settlements for
those aggrieved by violations of the NYC Human Rights Law. In 2003,
the dollar value of those settlements totaled $1,050,753 for an
average cash settlement of $14,197. Other settlements and provisions
successfully negotiated by the Commission include reinstatements,
policy changes and modifications for accessibility.
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The 2003 Determinations and Resolutions chart illustrates that Probable
Cause findings increased 100% and the number of cases settled increased
The Commission's Equal Access Program continues to provide disability
access assistance to senior citizens and the disabled community.
Many of New York's buildings, stores and other public accommodations
are not accessible to people with disabilities. The program assists
the disabled by identifying architectural and financial resources,
advocating for the disabled when dealing with landlords and/or service
providers, and assisting with legal actions if intervention fails.
Community Relations Bureau members received training in conducting
investigations at sites requiring disability access and coordinate
their efforts with the Law Enforcement Bureau.
As a result
of the Commission's aggressive efforts in 2003, 152 modifications
were made for individuals with disabilities, more than double the
amount in 2002. These modifications included the installation of
ramps and lifts in apartment buildings, restaurants, stores and
other public accommodations. The modifications also included the
removal of cart corrals in front of grocery and department stores.
These corrals prohibited individuals with disabilities from entering
and exiting these locations.
provides training in all areas of the NYC Human Rights Law to advocacy
groups, employers, housing and public accommodation providers, government
agencies, and community and student groups. Some of the organizations
that the Commission has provided training for include: an area hospital,
an advocacy group, and a large real estate firm.
The Law Enforcement Bureau consists of 16 attorneys, 19 Human Rights
Specialists, including two retired NYPD officers, and 11 support
investigator or attorney conducts the interview and tries
to intervene and resolve the issue before generating a complaint.
of Docketing files and serves the complaint; parties are invited
or attorney interviews witnesses, reviews documents.
cause: assignment to an attorney for prosecution. No probable
cause: case is dismissed, complainant may appeal to the Commissioner.
Law Judge holds a pre-trial conference. If case does not settle,
Administrative Law Judge conducts a hearing and issues a Report
issues a Final Decision and Order. If no liability found:
case dismissed. If liability found: relief ordered.