As 2023 comes to a close, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (“CCHR”) highlights campaigns, settlements, events, and initiatives that provided essential services to New Yorkers in the last 12 months. Through a coordinated effort that harnessed the power of community outreach, legal action, and multi-media engagement, CCHR made strides towards fostering a city where everyone can live, work, and thrive, free from discrimination.
Starting Sunday November 26, 2023, the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) protects New Yorkers from discrimination based on height and weight in employment, housing, and public accommodations. As with most forms of prejudice, size discrimination impedes economic prosperity, housing stability, and the ability to enjoy public spaces. Signed into Law by Mayor Eric Adams on May 26, 2023, this amendment aims to root out bias and foster a city in which everyone can live, work, and thrive free from discrimination in all its forms. The height and weight provisions join the 25 protected categories enshrined in the NYCHRL, which already prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, age, disability, religion, gender, and sexuality, among others.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights announced a $330,000 settlement with Gucci America Inc., (“Gucci”) in a matter involving sexual harassment. For approximately five years, a former Gucci sales associate endured egregious physical and verbal harassment by both a fellow sales associate and a manager in one of Gucci’s New York City retail stores. Gucci, despite knowledge of the persistent sexual harassment, failed to address the blatant discrimination in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. After the Complainant reported the incidents, she faced retaliation from her manager, which only heightened the level of harm. The Complainant suffered pervasive emotional and physical distress due to the hostile work environment and Gucci’s lack of action.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) and Fordham University announce a turnkey collaboration between city government and real estate professionals to prevent housing discrimination. CCHR attorneys will offer a course through Fordham’s Real Estate Institute (REI) at their Lincoln Center campus. The class will be a crucial and reoccurring touchpoint between real estate professionals and CCHR, raising the visibility of the agency and awareness of the protections in city’s Human Rights Law. By taking CCHR’s class, realtors and brokers will receive 1.5 credits towards the renewal of their license, which is required every two years. REI’s established reputation in the real estate industry and its reach will enhance the city’s efforts to counter housing discrimination.
We are grateful that the White House included the New York City Commission on Human Rights' unique training, 'Understanding Jewish Experiences and Antisemitism' as a valuable resource to address bias and discrimination faced by Jewish communities in the US. The Commission's training is featured as an effective example of local government action. Our training aims to cultivate dialogue in New York City, and we hope this inspires other local governments and community organizations to collaborate to combat the bias, discrimination, and hate harming many Jewish communities across the country.
The Commission has issued a Decision and Order mandating the respondents pay the maximum civil penalty of $250,000 in addition to approximately $300,000 in compensatory damages to the complainant. The Commission's Office of the Chair is responsible for issuing Decision and Orders after a trial in front of an Administrative Law Judge. Decisions and Orders can mandate relief including monetary damages, civil penalties, and trainings, along with affirmative relief.
The NYC Commission on Human Rights (the Commission) works with realtors to embed innovative policies into settlements. These policies seek to halt patterns of discrimination. Previous settlements have mandated "set asides". This means that a percentage of units are held specifically for tenants with vouchers. Recent Commission-mediated settlements include broker incentive programs. As part of these programs, brokerages incentivize housing voucher holders by offering monetary bonuses. This benefits brokers who work with and place the highest number of tenants with public sources of income in homes.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights (the Commission) is launching a public education campaign about source of income discrimination. This is when housing providers deny housing to an applicant or mistreat a tenant because they use a rental subsidy, commonly referred to as a voucher. These practices violate the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the nation. Vouchers offer a path to stability. The "Vouchers Pay. Discrimination Doesn't." campaign will educate tenants, housing applicants and providers about their rights and responsibilities under the NYCHRL and will encourage New Yorkers to report suspected violations to the Commission.