The NYC Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in housing based on your actual or perceived race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender (including gender identity and sexual harassment), sexual orientation, disability, marital status, partnership status, lawful occupation, family status, or lawful source of income. The Law also prohibits retaliation.
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.  

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.

If you believe you are the victim of housing discrimination, contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights at 212-306-7450 or visit 311 online.

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A website of the NYC Commission on Human Rights and the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development

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