Commission Supervising Attorney Paul Keefe with New Yorker at #FairChanceNYC Press Conference, November 2017 (Photo credit: Adrienne Nicole Productions).
The Commission has the authority to assess fines and obtain monetary damages for those aggrieved by violations of the New York City Human Rights Law. Additionally, the Commission may negotiate additional remedies including rehiring, policy change, training, and modifications for accessibility.
Walgreens pays $15,000 in Emotional Distress Damages, and $50,000 in Civil Penalties to Settle Criminal History Discrimination Case. Will Work with Reentry Orgs, Train NYC Managers and Supervisors, Post the Commission’s Notices, and Undergo Monitoring for Two Years
Complainant, a Black man, alleged that Walgreens violated State Law Article 23A and Fair Chance Act by revoking a job offer after discovering his criminal conviction history through a background check. Respondents failed to engage in the process required under Article 23-A. As part of a conciliation agreement, Respondents agreed to pay Complainant $15,000 in emotional distress damages and to pay $50,000 in Civil Penalties, to have their New York City-based managers and supervisors receive training on the NYCHRL, to revise their policies to conform with the NYCHRL, to monitoring for two years, to perform outreach with reentry organizations, and to comply with the Commission’s Notices posting requirements.
Via Transportation, Inc. pays $25,000 to Settle Service Animal Discrimination Complaint, Revise its Service Animal Policy, Conduct Anti-discrimination Driver Education, and Comply with the Commission’s Notices Requirements
Complainant, who uses a service animal, alleged that she was denied several Via Transportation rides because of the presence of her service animal. Via Transportation agreed to pay $15,000 in emotional distress damages and $10,000 in Civil Penalties, revise its Service Animal Policy, and to conduct anti-discrimination driver education and comply with the Commission’s Notices requirements.
Flagship Facility Services, Inc. Settles Fair Chance Act Claim, Pays a $60,000 Civil Penalty, Revises Policies, Posts Legal Notices, and Conducts Training
Testing conducted by the Commission revealed that the online employment application for Flagship Facility Services, Inc., a facilities management firm, contained an unlawful question about criminal history in violation of the Fair Chance Act. The Commission initiated an investigation and filed a complaint. Respondent removed the unlawful question and agreed to pay $60,000 in civil penalties,revise its policies to conform with the NYCHRL, provide NYCHRL training to all employees responsible for hiring in New York City, and to post the Commission’s Legal Notices.
Lyft, Inc. pays $45,000 in Damages to Settle Service animal Discrimination Complaint
Complainant, who utilizes a service animal, filed a complaint alleging that she was denied almost 20 Lyft rides because of the presence of her service animal. After the Law Enforcement Bureau’s investigation, Lyft agreed to pay $30,000 in emotional distress damages and $15,000 in Civil Penalties, revise its service animal policy, conduct anti-discrimination driver education, comply with the Commission’s Notices requirements, provide training for its independent contractors, and monitor service animal discrimination complaints for two years.
The Chefs' Warehouse Settles Claims of Discrimination based on Criminal Conviction History for $120,000 in Civil Penalties, Training, Policy Creation and Postings
After testing, the Law Enforcement Bureau filed a Commission-Initiated action against The Chefs' Warehouse for posting and maintaining employment advertisements and employment applications stating that applicants were subject to criminal background checks, in violation of the NY Fair Chance Act. Through a conciliation agreement, Respondent agreed to pay $120,000 in Civil Penalties, provide training to its employees on the NYCHRL, revise its policies consistent with the NYCHRL, create a Fair Chance Act Policy, and display the Commisison’s Notices.
The New York Council on Problem Gambling, Inc. (“NYCPG”) pays $75,000 in Emotional Distress Damages in Reasonable Accommodations Case Including an Receiving Treatment for Cancer
Complainant filed a complaint alleging employer for denied her a reasonable accommodation failed to engage in a cooperative dialogue with her after she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer. In addition, Complainant experienced a hostile work environment due to coworkers’ harassment because of her disability. As part of a conciliation agreement, Respondents agreed to pay Complainant $75,000 in emotional distress damages, have their New York City-based managers and supervisors receive leadership training and training on the NYCHRL, revise their policies to conform with the NYCHRL, and to comply with the Commission’s Legal Notices posting requirements.
Northwell Health Provide Additional Accessible Parking Spaces and Other Actions to Resolve Public Accommodations Disability Case Complainant, who has a mobility disability and uses a wheelchair, filed a complaint against a Northwell Health hospital in Staten Island and the owner of the surrounding parking lots for not providing accessible parking close to where he sought medical treatment. As part of a conciliation agreement, Respondents agreed to pay Complainant $7,000 in emotional distress damages and to pay $8,000 in civil penalties, to make modifications to its parking lots by providing additional accessible parking as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”); to have their employees who schedule patient appointments receive training to inform the public on the availability of the accessible parking; to revise its website to include an Accessible Parking Notice in compliance with the NYCHRL; and to comply with the Commission’s Legal Notices posting requirements.
Harbor Terrace Adult Care pays $40,000 in Damages for Failure to Provide a Reasonable Accommodation in the Workplace
Complainant partially lost her vision and had to undergo several medical procedures. During the time she was under medical care, Complainant provided Respondent Harbor Terrace with updates related to her progress and when she expected to return to work. However, Respondent Harbor Terrace, without attempting to engage in a cooperative dialogue, informed Complainant that it could no longer hold her position open and terminated her. Respondent Harbor Terrace was required to pay $30,000 in emotional distress damages and $10,000 in civil penalties.
Commission Initiated Pre-Complaint Investigation into an Inaccessible Apartment Building Results in Parkoff Operating Corp and Fiesta Park Assets Installing a Ramp, Revising Policy, Trainings and Postings. The Commissionreported an investigation into a Brooklyn apartment building after a tenant with disabilities complained that they were unable to open the heavy back door, where the only ramp to the building was located. The Law Enforcement Bureau (“LEB”)’s Project Equal Access team visited the building and determined that the front entrance could be made accessible. LEB negotiated directly with Respondents, who agreed to thefollowing through a Stipulation and Order: to install a ramp at the front entrance of the building, train the building’s superintendent on the NYCHRL, create anti-discrimination and reasonable accommodation policies, and display the Commission's Notice of Rights and Equal Access posters.
NYSPACE FINDERS Pays $11,900 in Emotional Distress Damages and Civil Penalties to Settle a Case Involving Discrimination on the Basis of Immigration Status
A broker’s application required an applicant to reveal their immigration status, the broker also knew that the landlord had made additional inquiries into Complainant’s immigration status and ultimately denied their application despite the fact that Complainant met all the application requirements. The broker was required to pay $8,400.00 in emotional distress damages and $3,500.00 in civil penalties. Respondents were also required to attend the Commission’s training on the New York City Human Rights Law, revise its policies, and post the Commission’s posters in conspicuous places in its offices.
Goldfarb Properties Settles Fair Chance Act Case for $25,000 Civil Penalty, Nationwide Policy Changes, Training, Postings, and Monitoring
The Commission initiated a case against Pelican Management, Inc., which does business as Goldfarb Properties ("Goldfarb"), a large landlord that owns and operates buildings across New York City, for violations of the NYCHRL's protections relating to arrest and conviction histories (the "Fair Chance Act"). After an investigation, the Commission found probable cause and referred the case to the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings ("OATH"). At OATH, Respondent Goldfarb agreed to pay $25,000 in civil penalties; train all of its employees who work in hiring on the Fair Chance Act; train all of its employees on the NYCHRL's protections against sexual harassment; create a Fair Chance Act policy to apply nationwide; revise its policies to meet the NYCHRL's standards on disability, sexual harassment, and reasonable accommodations; displaying the commission’s poster informing employees of their rights, "Notice of Rights," "Criminal History," "Pregnancy in Employment," and Stop Sexual Harassment posters and notices; revise its job application to meet the NYCHRL's standards on the Fair Chance Act, credit history, and salary history; and submit to monitoring by the Commission for two (2) years.
Bronstein Properties LLC Settles SOI Case for Trainings, Postings, 20 Set Asides and Revision of Policies and $5,000 in Emotional Distress Damages
Complainant who qualified for the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (“HASA”) program, was informed that “landlord doesn’t accept programs.” Respondent agreed to attend anti-discrimination training, revise their policies and application materials, post Notice of Rights posters, set aside twenty (20) apartments, and pay Complainant the gross total settlement sum of $5,000.00.
Instacart Pays $7,500 in Emotional Distress Damages and $80,000 in Civil Penalties and Agrees to Affirmative Relief After Claims of Fair Chance Act Violations
Complainant, an applicant to become an Instacart shopper, filed claims that Instacart failed to follow the requirements of the Fair Chance Act process when conducting a hiring background check, including improperly posting a notice of the check, requiring his consent to the background check in order to apply, and failing to conduct an individualized assessment considering the required factors under the Fair Chance Act. Instacart agreed to pay Complainant $7,500 for emotional distress and pay the City $80,000 in Civil Penalties. Additionally, Instacart agreed to measures to prevent future violations of the Fair Chance Act, including revising its application system for NYC-based applicants and conducting training on the NYCHRL with an emphasis on the Fair Chance Act.
Orcam Technologies, Ltd. Settles Claim of Illegal Salary History Inquiry for $5,000 in Damages, $10,000 in Civil Penalties, and Affirmative Relief
Complainant, a job applicant, filed a claim against Respondent Orcam Technologies, Ltd. alleging that Orcam Technologies inquired into her salary history during its interview process and subsequently declined to hire her. To settle the claims, Respondent agreed to pay $5,000 in emotional distress damages and $10,000 in civil penalties, train its employees on their obligations under the NYCHRL, display postings outlining its obligations under the NYCHRL, revise its policies to prohibit salary history inquiries of job applicants, and exclude claims brought under the NYC Human Rights Law from its mandatory arbitration clause.
Five Guys Pays $49,000 in Damages and Penalties in Pregnancy Discrimination Case, Agrees to Train all Employees, Revise Policies, Display Postings, and Submit to Monitoring
Complainant filed a complaint against Five Guys alleging they refused to hire her because she was six-months pregnant. Five Guys agreed to conciliate, paying Complainant $20,000 in emotional distress damages, $4,000 in backpay and $25,000 as a civil penalty. Respondent also agreed to affirmative relief for seven franchise locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, which included revising policies to comply with the NYCHRL; conducting training for management staff about non-discrimination in the hiring, training, and employment of pregnant people, and providing reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions; training all employees on the anti-discrimination protections of the NYCHRL; posting anti-discrimination notices; and submitting to monitoring and reporting of reasonable accommodation requests for pregnancy for two years.
Respondent Berkeley Carroll School Pays $11,362.99 in Damages for Discrimination Based on Alienage or Citizenship Status
Complainant, who is an immigrant, was hired by Respondent Berkeley Carroll School (Berkeley Carroll) to teach for the summer and submitted documents proving she was authorized to work in the United States. However, Respondent Berkeley Carroll required additional documents from Complainant proving that she was authorized to work. Respondent Berkeley Carroll then informed Complainant she could no longer work for the rest of the summer. Despite later confirming that Complainant was permitted to work, Respondent Berkeley Carroll did not allow Complainant to return to work. Respondent Berkeley Carroll agreed to pay Complainant $2,362.99 in back pay and $9,000.00 in emotional distress damages as part of a conciliation agreement.
Delta Airlines Agrees to Update it Polices on Pregnancy, Lactation, Disability, and Religious Accommodation Polices
In a pre-complaint investigation, the Commission initiated a matter to investigate Delta Airlines’ employment and reasonable accommodation policies. Respondent Delta worked with the Commission to provide and update their accommodation policies, ensuring that that pregnancy and lactation accommodations, disability, and religious accommodation are compliant with the New York City Human Rights Law.
Security Industry Specialists, a Large Security Contractor, Agrees to Change Dress Code
While investigating a case filed by an individual Complainant, the Commission discovered that Respondent Security Industry Specialists, Inc., maintained a dress code that discriminated against employees and subcontractors based on race and gender. Respondent signed a Stipulation and Order and changed its policies to eliminate the discrimination parameters, and agreed to distribute the new policy to its workforce.
Landlord Agrees to Settle Case of Disability Discrimination for Structural Modifications, Rent Credit, Monetary Damages, Training, New Policies, and Posting
Complainant, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, filed a complaint with the Law Enforcement Bureau, alleging that her housing provider delayed installing a ramp at the front entrance of her building, which prevented Complainant from returning to her rent-stabilized apartment from a care facility for an extended period of time. After Respondents graded the front, external walkway of Complainant’s building and installed an external and internal lobby ramp at the building’s entrance, Complainant returned home. Complainant alleged that once she returned home, Respondents failed to provide additional accommodations for her disability. Respondents denied the allegations, and the Law Enforcement Bureau reached a finding of probable cause. To settle the matter, Respondents agreed to: credit Complainant $16,000 toward her rent; pay $14,000 in emotional distress damages; pay $10,000 in civil penalties to the City of New York; create a reasonable accommodation policy; and provide additional modifications to the front entrance of Complainant’s building to accommodate her disability. Prior to settlement, Respondents also provided modifications to Complainant’s apartment, attended an anti-discrimination training, and displayed fair housing posters at their two residential buildings.
Absolute Properties of NYC LLC agrees to pay $6,000 in Emotional Distress Damages and Extensive Affirmative Relief in Source of Income Discrimination Case
Complainant sought to use an HRA broker’s fee voucher to rent an apartment through the real estate agency, Respondent Absolute Properties of NYC LLC. (“Absolute Properties”). However, Complainant alleged that he was denied a housing opportunity because of his voucher status. Complainant alleged that a real estate agent for Respondent informed Complainant that Respondents did not accept HRA broker’s fee vouchers because they did not agree with the terms of the broker commission agreement that HRA required brokers to sign or the commission that HRA offered. As part of the Conciliation Agreement with the Commission, Respondents agreed to: pay Complainant $6,000 in emotional distress damages, attend a training on the NYC Human Rights Law’s Source of Income provisions (“NYCHRL”), comply with the Commission’s legal notices requirements, revise its Source of Income policies, and comply with monitoring for 1 year.
Tumblr, Inc. Agrees to Groundbreaking Agreement After Commission-Initiated Investigation into Algorithmic Discrimination Against LGBTQ Community
The Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau initiated an investigation into the Adult Content Ban used by Tumblr, Inc., to ban “adult” lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) content. The ban automatically removed posts via an image-classifying algorithm (Classifier), although it was later changed so that human reviewers had the final say.
Through a Stipulation and Order, Respondent Tumblr agreed to take steps that include hiring an expert on image classifying algorithms and sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) to examine Tumblr’s Classifier for SOGI bias and determine the necessary steps to address such bias, taking those steps, and reporting to the Commission on their effects. The expert will also train the engineers and Reviewers who work on the Classifier on how to avoid and remove SOGI bias. Additionally, Tumblr agreed to train employees and contractors on the New York City Human Rights Law and unconscious SOGI bias; revise its appeal process to allow users to include a narrative; search those narratives and review appeals under the ban for SOGI bias and then use the resulting images to retrain the Classifier and the reviewers; transfer employees to work on the improvements to the Classifier and appeal process; and to post the Commission’s Notice of Rights and LGBTQ rights brochure on its employee intranet.
REM Residential Settles a Source of Income Case for $4,000 in Emotional Distress Damages, Set Asides of Five Apartments for Voucher Holders, Postings, and Trainings
Complainant, a long-term tenant in her building, alleged that Respondents refused to fill out paperwork needed for a Section 8 Voucher. Respondents agreed to pay Complainant $4,000 in emotional distress damages, attend trainings on the NYCHRL, post the Commission's "Notice of Rights" and "Fair Housing, It's the Law" posters in Respondents' buildings, attach the Commission's "source of income discrimination FAQ's" to Respondents' application materials, and set aside five (5) apartments for voucher holders.
United Health Group Revises Criminal Background Check Policies and Pays $45,000 in Damages
After Complainant interviewed for a position with Respondent, United Health Group, he was encouraged to apply for a more senior role, which he was offered after seven rounds of interviews. Then, Respondent rescinded Complainant’s offer of employment because, four years earlier, he was a registered sex offender. The Commission made a probable cause finding, and Respondent paid Complainant $30,000 in emotional distress damages and a $15,000 civil penalty. Respondent also brought its hiring policies in line with the NYCHRL’s protections for people with criminal records and trained its staff on the NYCHRL’s provisions.
Aon Risk Services Pays $80,000 to Resolve Per Se Violations of the Fair Chance Act
As a result of testing, a Commission-initiated complaint was filed against Respondent Aon for posting numerous employment advertisements on its site saying candidates are subject to a background check, which may include criminal and credit history. LEB’s investigation revealed that nearly 13,000 people responded to ads that likely had illegal language, using applications also containing the illegal language. Additionally, Aon’s background check process appeared to mix criminal and non-criminal information—instead of examining criminal history information last—meaning that Aon likely conducted illegal, pre-conditional offer criminal history inquiries for all of these applicants. . To resolve the complaint following a probable cause finding, Aon paid an $80,000 civil penalty, agreed to train 1,300 employees (including more than 1,200 based in New York City) on the NYCHRL, and brought its employment policies in line with the NYCHRL.
Former Management Company Advantage Management Property, its Successor Wavecrest Management, and Housing Providers Northern Manhattan Equities LLC and Hurston Place Equities LLC Settle Disability Discrimination and Source of Income and Retaliation Case for $25,000 in Emotional Distress Damages, Two Years of Rent Credit, $5,000 in Civil Penalties, Affirmative Relief, and Agree to Provide Complainant a Reasonable Accommodation
Complainant, a Section 8 recipient who uses a wheelchair for mobility, alleged that his disability was not reasonably accommodated by Respondents Advantage Management, Northern Manhattan Equities LLC, and Hurston Place Equities LLC, the management company and housing providers affiliated with Advantage. Complainant lived in a top-floor rent-stabilized apartment with frequent elevator outages which would leave him stranded for weeks at a time. He repeatedly requested to transfer to an accessible unit. Respondents denied the allegations, and the Law Enforcement Bureau reached a determination of probable cause in this matter. Prior to conciliation, Respondents transferred Complainant to a first-floor accessible, rent-stabilized apartment at his previous rental amount in his neighborhood. Respondents agreed to pay Complainant $25,000 in emotional distress damages, to provide Complainant with a two (2) year rent credit for his monthly portion of rent, and to pay $5,000 in civil penalties to the City of New York. Wavecrest Management, who took over management of Respondents’ buildings, agreed to: ensure that their policies regarding reasonable accommodations comply with the NYCHRL, including by appointing a specific employee to handle reasonable accommodation requests and creating a formal policy regarding waitlists for apartment transfers; provide training to employees; and display postings outlining their obligations under the NYCHRL. The Law Enforcement Bureau will monitor all reasonable accommodation requests at the buildings owned by the housing providers for one year.