2015 Press Releases

NYC Commission on Human Rights Announces Strong Protections For City’s Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Communities in Housing, Employment, and Public Spaces, 12/21/15

"Today, the New York City Commission on Human Rights released new guidance that makes clear what constitutes gender identity and gender expression discrimination under the NYC Human Rights Law, making it one of the strongest in the nation in protecting the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Although discrimination based on gender identity and expression has been illegal under the City’s law since 2002, previous guidelines never articulated the range of violations of the law. Today’s guidance provides bold and explicit examples of violations, sending a clear message to employers, landlords, business owners, and the general public what the City considers to be discrimination under the law. The guidance also offers best practices on how stakeholders can comply with the law."

Statement from NYC Human Rights Commission Carmelyn P. Malalis on the Commission’s Work Combating Housing Discrimination based on Lawful Source of Income, 12/2/15

"Lawful source of income discrimination is an insidious practice that deprives some of the City’s most vulnerable residents – people with disabilities, low income, and those struggling with other economic barriers – of available housing, which they should otherwise be able to access.  The Commission on Human Rights’ Law Enforcement Bureau has been aggressively enforcing “source of income” protections under the New York City Human Rights Law, both by investigating complaints brought by members of the public and by investigating cases initiated by the Commission itself.  This year alone, the Commission is investigating 85 active cases of housing discrimination involving lawful source of income complaints, a 286% increase from 2014 when only 22 complaints were received. Of the 85 cases filed this year, 65 were pursued after we received a complaint from the public and 20 cases were actively initiated by the Commission without needing a formal complaint and after it determined enough evidence to bring a case against a landlord. Since the Human Rights Law was amended in 2008 to protect against this type of discrimination, the Commission has resolved 157 cases where a tenant or prospective renter received some sort of resolution. To further weed out housing discrimination, the Commission is revamping its housing discrimination testing program to more effectively take on landlords and other housing providers who discriminate.  As a result of the agency’s focus in this area, one third of all housing discrimination investigations are focused on lawful source of income complaints. It is imperative that landlords across all five boroughs follow the letter of the Human Rights Law in accepting public assistance vouchers from tenants, so that every New Yorker has a place to live."

NYC Commission on Human Rights Issues Three New Rulings Reaffirming Commitment to Fighting Discrimination While Helping Small Businesses Develop Equitable Employment Practices, 11/2/15

The New York City Commission on Human Rights issued the first three rulings under Commissioner and Chair, Carmelyn P. Malalis, who came on board in early 2015. Under her leadership, the Commission is now considering a range of factors before reaching a ruling and determining the appropriate outcome on discrimination cases, such as the size and resources of a business, its knowledge of the law, and its ability to obtain counsel. In one decision involving egregious sexual harassment in the workplace and an uncooperative employer, the Commission issued its highest penalty in the agency’s history, while in another case involving an immigrant owner of a small business who unknowingly violated the law, the ruling is mandating that the owner attend a free training provided by the Commission’s Community Relations Bureau instead of issuing a fine. This is aligned with the Commission’s new roadmap to ensure that the business community understands its obligations under the law and has the tools it needs to succeed while developing equitable employment practices."

Statement from NYC Human Rights Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis on Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act, 9/3/15

“For too long, employers’ use of credit history has prevented qualified New Yorkers from attaining good jobs. Job applicants should be judged on their merit and qualifications, not on their credit history.  Thanks to our many partners, including sister agencies, elected officials, associations, and nonprofits, we are planning to reach tens of thousands of employers and job seekers to educate New Yorkers about their rights and responsibilities under this new law.”

Mayor de Blasio Signs "Fair Chance Act," 6/29/15

"Mayor de Blasio today signed into law eight pieces of legislation [including] Intro. 318-A, which strengthens provisions of the City’s Human Rights Law that prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s record of arrest or criminal conviction. In order to combat employment discrimination, the bill will prohibit employers from inquiring about candidates’ criminal records until after they have made a conditional offer of employment, and require them to provide a written copy of the inquiry, analysis, and supporting documentation to applicants."

Statement from NYC Human Rights Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis on Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage Equality, 6/26/15

"This is a historic ruling for our nation and a very important one to me personally as a woman married to another woman. The Supreme Court recognized that LGBTQ individuals and families are entitled to fundamental freedoms and equal protection of the law.  Recognizing the constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry acknowledges the dignity of our relationships and afford us the full rights and responsibilities that come with marriage no matter where we live.  At the NYC Commission on Human Rights, we not only enforce the law but we also work to educate the public and promote diversity and inclusion.  Now all municipalities across the nation must work to ensure that this decision will help LGBTQ people to be treated with dignity and respect. This is a significant step towards equality but there is still more work ahead to achieve fundamental freedoms and equal protection of the law for all.”

Statement From Mayor Bill de Blasio on Supreme Court Ruling on Housing Discrimination Case, 6/25/15

“This administration is committed to building and preserving thriving, diverse neighborhoods throughout all five boroughs, and to ensuring that the rights of our city’s residents are protected. Today’s Supreme Court decision affirms the strength and importance of the Fair Housing Act as a critical tool in the fight against inequality and discrimination.”

Statement from Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis on NYC Human Rights Law Protections on Housing Discrimination based on Lawful Source of Income and Disability, 6/24/15

“Discrimination based on source of income and disability, including discrimination against people living with HIV or AIDS, continues to persist in our City.  The NYC Human Rights Commission regularly receives complaints from the public reporting that landlords or real estate brokers refuse to rent to tenants with public assistance vouchers, from Section 8 vouchers to the vouchers administered by the Living in Communities (LINC) rent program.  The Commission’s testers focused on source of income discrimination also routinely encounter landlords and brokers who refuse vouchers. In these cases, the Commission files administrative complaints against the landlord or broker and also works with them to provide education on the Human Rights Law so they can avoid a violation in the future.  In the last two weeks, the Commission has started providing free trainings at each of its borough-based community service centers to educate housing providers and others on their obligations under the law.  New Yorkers who have a discrimination complaint should immediately call 311 and ask to be connected to the Commission to discuss their case and receive guidance on next steps.”

Statement from Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis on Subway Incident against Transgender New Yorker, 6/4/15

“The New York City Commission on Human Rights condemns violence against any human being and works to encourage a more tolerant City for all by educating New Yorkers on and enforcing the New York City Human Rights Law. The incident perpetrated against a New Yorker in the subway is deeply troubling and a wakeup call that even in a city as diverse and as welcoming as ours, transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers can still face attacks. We all must stay vigilant and denounce these type of incidents in order to make our City a safer place for all.  This is a priority area for the new leadership at the Commission and we look forward to working with our partners in the community to protect the rights of our fellow New Yorkers. Victims of bias related harassment or discrimination can call 311 to report a complaint to the Human Rights Commission which will investigate claims for the purpose of initiating an enforcement action and will equip individuals with information on their rights.”

Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation to Prohibit Employers from Using Credit Checks to Screen Applicants, 5/6/15

"Mayor de Blasio today signed into law seven pieces of legislation... The first bill, Intro. 261-A, prohibits employers, labor organizations, and employment agencies from using or requesting an applicant’s consumer credit history, and prevents them from discriminating against an applicant or employee based on their credit history... 'Many New Yorkers know what it’s like to face a personal crisis that forces them to take on debt. The use of credit history to determine job worthiness denies already vulnerable New Yorkers opportunities to gain employment and earn a living for themselves and their families,' said Carmelyn P. Malalis, Commissioner and Chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights. 'Our Law Enforcement staff will be vigilant in enforcing this law as ?our Community Relations Bureau takes proactive measures to educate individuals on their rights and employers on their obligations.'"

Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation to Establish Testing Programs for Housing and Employment Discrimination and Increase Transparency for the Human Rights Commission, 4/20/15

"Mayor de Blasio today signed into law five pieces of legislation ... The first set of bills – Intro. 421-A, Intro. 689-A, and Intro. 690-A – strengthen the transparency of the Human Rights Commission in its efforts to enforce the Human Rights Law, which protects New Yorkers from discrimination."

Mayor de Blasio Appoints Carmelyn P. Malalis as Chair of the City's Commission on Human Rights, Names Eight new Commissioners, 11/21/14

"Building on his commitment to promote New York City’s progressive human rights law and effective community relations in a diverse city, Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced his appointment of Carmelyn P. Malalis as the new Chair of the City’s Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) and named eight new commissioners to the agency: Ana Oliveira, Catherine Albisa, Arnaldo Segarra, Domna Stanton, Steven Choi, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Jonathan Greenspun, and Reverend Dr. Demetrius Carolina."