February 23, 2017
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces State Investigations Secure $5 Million for Victims of Discrimination

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces State Investigations...

More Than 900 New Yorkers From Across the State Awarded Compensation

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that the State Division of Human Rights last year secured more than $5 million in compensation for victims of discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation. As the result of DHR investigations, 923 victims were awarded a total of $5.2 million. In addition, DHR assessed $273,000 in penalties against employers.  
 
"New York's diversity is its strength and this administration has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, period," Governor Cuomo said. "We will take every necessary step to ensure New Yorkers are being treated fairly under the law, that landlords, employers and businesses know their obligations, and that those who disregard them will be held accountable."

The largest compensation outcomes were seen in employment cases, including:

  • Following a public hearing, an electrical technician for a utility company was found to have been discriminated against and terminated due to his disability, despite being able to effectively perform his job. DHR ordered the technician to be reinstated, awarded him $375,000 in lost wages and emotional suffering damages, and fined the respondent $50,000 as a civil penalty payable to the State of New York.
  • An elementary school teacher in New York City alleged she was denied a reasonable accommodation and prohibited from returning to work after suffering an on-the-job injury. The complaint was settled for $164,000 in back wages. 
  • A woman working as a sales manager at a direct-mail company alleged she faced gender discrimination in the form of unequal pay. The complaint was settled for $160,000.
  • Following a public hearing, a female administrative assistant at a collection agency in Amherst was found to have faced sexual harassment and verbal abuse on a daily basis. She was awarded $70,000. DHR fined the respondent $15,000, payable to the State of New York, as a civil penalty.

 

 

Notable housing cases include:

  • An African-American man in Brooklyn filed a complaint alleging predatory lending practices by a major bank and other firms. He alleged he was misled about the terms of a loan, charged unexplained fees, and that this was part of a broader pattern of targeting borrowers in minority neighborhoods in NYC. The complaint was settled for $35,000.
  • A married Long Island couple alleged they were denied the opportunity to rent a three-bedroom apartment in Southampton, N.Y., because they had two minor children. They also alleged that two real estate agencies steered them to other properties and that the respondents placed discriminatory advertisements for the apartment. They filed complaints against the owners and both real estate agencies, who settled for a total of $29,000.
  • An African-American woman was forced out of her Brooklyn apartment because the landlord sought tenants of a different race and national origin. The Division found that the Human Rights Law had been violated and awarded the complainant $16,620 in damages. The landlord was also ordered to pay $10,000 to the State of New York in civil fines and penalties.



A breakdown of all DHR cases resolved in 2016 by region and compensation:

 

Region

Number of Victims

Compensation

Capital Region

39

$210,165

Central NY

77

$588,113

Finger Lakes

107

$615,433

Hudson Valley

78

$367,506

Long Island

167

$780,400

Mohawk Valley

24

$85,281

New York City

276

$1,800,291

North Country

10

$44,033

Southern Tier

26

$89,250

Western NY

119

$587,178

In addition, DHR assessed $273,000 in penalties against employers, including: A $60,000 fine against an Oneonta car dealership in a case based on disability discrimination in employment; a $55,000 fine against a Staten Island restaurant for sex/age discrimination in employment; and a $50,000 fine against Con Ed in a disability/employment case.

The Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, credit, and places of public accommodation, among other areas of jurisdiction, based upon age, race, creed, color, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, disability, pregnancy-related condition, domestic violence victim status, familial status, or other characteristic of any individual.

New York has the proud distinction of being the first state in the nation to enact a Human Rights Law, which affords every citizen "an equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life." The New York State Division of Human Rights is the agency in charge of enforcing this law. For more information about the law and the work of the agency, please visit the Division of Human Rights’ website at www.dhr.ny.gov or call 1-888-392-3644.

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