Law Enforcement Bureau
The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau
(LEB) enforces the NYC Human Rights Law. LEB
is responsible for the intake, investigation, and
prosecution of complaints alleging violations of the
The number of new cases the Commission
filed in 2008 was 507. In addition, the Commission
successfully resolved 245 allegations of
discrimination through pre-complaint intervention.
Pre-complaint intervention assures a speedy
resolution without the necessity of filing a complaint,
avoiding costly and lengthy litigation.
An example of a pre-complaint intervention
involved a disabled veteran from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn,
who could not leave his apartment because his
building was inaccessible to wheelchair users. The
Commission intervened and negotiated a settlement
with the respondents that involved moving the
complainant to an accessible building across the
street and providing him with a larger refurbished
apartment, paying all costs associated in the
move, and freezing his rent for life. The estimated
settlement value was in excess of $40,000.
LEB also worked with a City museum, a hotel,
and a major department store to make each of their
locations accessible to individuals with disabilities.
The museum built a new accessible entrance; the
hotel installed new electric doors and upgraded
their lift system; and the department store installed
modifications in their restrooms such as grab bars,
signage, new wider doors, and the lowering of
handles and paper towel dispensers.
Additionally, LEB successfully intervened
on behalf of a complainant whose daughter was
discriminated against at a retail store because of her
disability. The complainant’s daughter received a
monetary settlement of $7,500 from the respondent,
and a letter of apology. The retail store also agreed
to provide sensitivity training to its managerial
LEB also successfully intervened on behalf of
a former employee of a company who had requested
a medical accommodation because of her disability
but was refused and subsequently terminated. In
that case, the Commission obtained a monetary
settlement of $7,000 for the complainant.
In addition to the 245 allegations resolved
through pre-complaint intervention, the Commission
resolved 551 filed cases in 2008. The Commission’s
two-pronged approach - an intensive initial interview
of the complainant followed by an immediate
investigation of the facts alleged - provides
investigators with a greater ability to gather
evidence, identify witnesses, and build the strongest
case. This successful approach is responsible
for such a significant increase in Probable Cause
Determinations and Settlements since 2002. More
importantly, the Commission restructured LEB to
maximize its efficiency, using staff attorneys to
conduct all of its investigations, while shifting away
from the use of Human Rights Specialists. This has
enabled the Commission to increase its caseload
and decrease the amount of time it takes to issue a
During 2008, 414 of the 472 pending cases at
Commission were under one year old as compared
to just 14% of the total amount at the beginning
of this administration. In 2008, there were no
cases seven years or older as compared to 2002,
when there were 1,500 cases at the Commission
seven years or older. The overall reduction in cases
since 2002 has given investigators the ability to
focus on current cases and not be burdened with
overwhelming case loads.
In 2008, the Commission took four cases to
trial although no post-trial Orders were issued during
In 2008, the Commission assessed and
collected fines totaling $81,200.
The Commission has the authority to obtain
cash settlements for those aggrieved by violations
of the Human Rights Law. In 2008, the total dollar
value of settlements was $628,264 with an average
cash settlement of $10,210. Non-cash settlements
successfully negotiated by the Commission include
rehirings, policy changes, and modifications for
Since 2002, Probable Cause Determinations have dramatically risen as the Determinations and
Resolutions chart illustrates.
Many of New York’s buildings, stores,
and other public accommodations are not
accessible to people with disabilities. As a result
of its aggressive efforts in 2008, the Commission
successfully negotiated 209 modifications for
individuals with disabilities; more than double the
amount in 2002. Most of these modifications were
accomplished through pre-complaint intervention.
The Equal Access Program assists the
disabled community by identifying architectural
and financial resources that are available,
advocating for the disabled when dealing
with landlords and/or service providers, and
assisting with legal actions if intervention fails.
Community Relations staff members, trained
in conducting investigations at various sites
requiring disability access, have coordinated their
efforts with the Law Enforcement Bureau.
Modifications secured through the
Commission include: installing permanent and
portable ramps – both interior and exterior; bell
and buzzer systems for entry to stores, offices,
and apartment buildings; hand rails; grab bars;
curb cuts; accessible fitting rooms and bathrooms;
widening of aisles; signage, permitting guide
dogs in public accommodations; moving several
disabled individuals to ground floor apartments,
making exit and entry to the building accessible;
moving several individuals to an accessible
location either permanently or while the elevator
was under repair; removal of cart corrals and
gates; permitting a disabled tenant to have a
washing machine in the apartment; lowering
the soap dispensers and door handles in a large
store; widening the kitchen and bathroom doors
and lowering the kitchen cabinets; and making a
City museum code-compliant and accessible.
The Law Enforcement Bureau consists of 17
attorneys, 4 Human Rights Specialists, including one
retired NYPD officer, and 4 support staff members.
|An investigator or attorney conducts the interview and tries to
intervene and resolve the issue before generating a complaint.
|Office of Docketing files and serves the complaint; parties are
invited to mediate.
|Investigator or attorney interviews witnesses, reviews documents.
|Probable Cause: assignment to an attorney for prosecution.
No Probable Cause: case is dismissed, complainant may appeal
to the Commissioner.
|Administrative Law Judge holds a pre-trial conference. If case
does not settle, Administrative Law Judge conducts a hearing
and issues a Report and Recommendation.
|The Commission issues a Final Decision and Order. If no liability
found: case dismissed. If liability found: relief ordered.