Hochul announces nearly $7M to victims of discrimination

Governor Kathy Hochul.
Governor Kathy Hochul.
Photo Courtesy of Darren McGee/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday announced that the New York State Division of Human Rights awarded nearly $7 million in compensation in Fiscal Year 2023 for more than 1,000 victims of discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation.

This sum represents the highest total compensation in the past six years, a 7.4 percent increase from Fiscal Year 2022, and a 26.8 percent increase from pre-pandemic Fiscal Year 2019. 

In addition, the Division issued $269,000 in fines against employers, housing providers, and businesses for discriminatory practices and policies. 

“Securing this funding furthers our efforts to help victims seek the justice they deserve and make New York a safer state for all,” Hochul said. “Ruthless employers, housing providers, and businesses need to be held accountable for their discriminatory practices, and victims of discrimination deserve to feel heard and seen.” 

Division of Human Rights Commissioner Maria Imperial said, “Under our State’s Human Rights Law, every New Yorker has the equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life. When discrimination occurs – whether in housing, education or employment – that right and opportunity is taken away. As the enforcement agency for our state’s Human Rights Law, we will continue to empower the public through educational outreach and use every tool at our disposal to ensure that every New Yorker is treated lawfully and fairly.” 

The Division is the agency charged with enforcing the State’s Human Right Law and investigating discrimination complaints filed by New Yorkers. 

In addition to investigations, the Division has the authority to impose fines and obtain monetary damages for those whose rights under the state’s Human Rights Law have been violated. 

The Division may also negotiate additional remedies including policy change, training, and modifications for accessibility. 

As a result of the Division’s work last fiscal year, a total of 1,012 victims received $6.7 million in monetary damages and compensation.

Case examples include: A salesperson at a Long Island trucking and logistics firm was awarded $24,435 after being found to have experienced age discrimination. 

The employer pressured her to retire early, made derogatory comments about her ability to learn due to her age, and ultimately replaced her with a younger employee during a restructuring. The Division also imposed a civil fine of $10,000 on the company. 

A Rochester woman who worked as a landscaper at a power plant alleged that she experienced discrimination and termination due to her sex and disability. 

The complainant alleged that her company sought to replace female landscapers with male workers, and that it forced her off the job by refusing to reasonably accommodate lifting restrictions that arose from a back condition. The complaint was settled for a total of $120,000.

A Long Island man who worked as a manager at a logistics and shipping company alleged that he faced discrimination and harassment because he is African-American, an Army reservist, and experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. 

The complainant alleged that he reported misconduct by subordinates, and then was terminated as a result of his report whereas other white managers were not. The complaint was resolved in a settlement of $46,000. 

A Queens man living in an apartment building alleged that his landlord denied him the opportunity to keep an emotional support dog and attempted to evict him, despite providing documentation from a medical professional on his need for this accommodation. The complaint was settled for $19,000. 

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

Hochul said 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. 

New Yorkers who have experienced discrimination can file complaints with DHR online, by mail, or in person.

 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.