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NYC Employers Should Expect Tougher Enforcement of Human Rights Law

Author: Scarinci Hollenbeck|May 8, 2015

Employers may want to double down their compliance efforts with regard to the New York City Human Rights Law.

NYC Employers Should Expect Tougher Enforcement of Human Rights Law

Employers may want to double down their compliance efforts with regard to the New York City Human Rights Law.

Mayor Bill DiBlasio recently signed two bills that will likely lead to increased enforcement.  As employers should be aware, New York City’s expansive Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender (including gender identity and sexual harassment), sexual orientation, disability (including pregnancy), marital status, and partnership status. Under a recent amendment, unpaid interns are considered employees under the law.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights is charged with enforcing the law. Under one of the bills signed by Mayor DiBlasio, the Commission must issue annual reports detailing the total number of investigations initiated, the total number of complaints filed, and the total number of investigations that resulted in civil suits. The new reporting requirements, which are intended to increase transparency, take effect on March 1, 2017.

The second amendment to the NYC Human Rights Law establishes a new employment discrimination-testing program, which is intended to bolster compliance with the Human Rights Law. The program requires the Commission on Human Rights to conduct at least five investigations of employment discrimination within a one-year period using pairs of “testers.” The investigations will involve using matched pairs of testers who will apply for, inquire about or express interest in the same job. The testers will be assigned similar credentials but will differ in one of the following characteristics: actual or perceived age, race, creed, color, national origin, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation or alienage or citizenship status.

Any incidents of actual or perceived discrimination that occur during the investigations will be referred to the Commission’s law enforcement bureau and may result in civil actions. The investigations are scheduled to start on or before October 1, 2015.

NYC Employers Should Expect Tougher Enforcement of Human Rights Law

Author: Scarinci Hollenbeck

Mayor Bill DiBlasio recently signed two bills that will likely lead to increased enforcement.  As employers should be aware, New York City’s expansive Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender (including gender identity and sexual harassment), sexual orientation, disability (including pregnancy), marital status, and partnership status. Under a recent amendment, unpaid interns are considered employees under the law.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights is charged with enforcing the law. Under one of the bills signed by Mayor DiBlasio, the Commission must issue annual reports detailing the total number of investigations initiated, the total number of complaints filed, and the total number of investigations that resulted in civil suits. The new reporting requirements, which are intended to increase transparency, take effect on March 1, 2017.

The second amendment to the NYC Human Rights Law establishes a new employment discrimination-testing program, which is intended to bolster compliance with the Human Rights Law. The program requires the Commission on Human Rights to conduct at least five investigations of employment discrimination within a one-year period using pairs of “testers.” The investigations will involve using matched pairs of testers who will apply for, inquire about or express interest in the same job. The testers will be assigned similar credentials but will differ in one of the following characteristics: actual or perceived age, race, creed, color, national origin, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation or alienage or citizenship status.

Any incidents of actual or perceived discrimination that occur during the investigations will be referred to the Commission’s law enforcement bureau and may result in civil actions. The investigations are scheduled to start on or before October 1, 2015.

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