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NYC Litigation Blog

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

What Happens After You File a Complaint with the New York State Division on Human Rights?

There are both federal and state laws in place that protect people from falling victim to adverse, discriminatory employment actions. For instance, in New York, the Human Rights Law states that every citizen has an “equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life.” This means the law will shield you from things like discriminatory employment practices based on race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, age, marital status, and disability, among other things. If you have been the subject of employment discrimination in New York, you have the option of filing a complaint with the New York State Division on Human Rights.

What Happens After You File a Complaint with the New York State Division on Human Rights?

In order to file a complaint with the Division of Human rights, you must complete the complaint form in full, attaching copies of supporting documentation. This must all be submitted to the Division on Human Rights and you should keep copies of everything for your own records. An investigation by the Division of Human Rights will be initiated once a regional office receives your complaint.

The respondent, the party you are alleging engaged in the discriminatory behavior, will be notified that a complaint has been filed. The division on Human Rights will make sure any jurisdictional issues are addressed before proceeding and, when applicable, a copy of your complaint will be forwarded to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The investigation into the complaint will then begin.

An investigation into your complaint may involve things such as written inquiry and field investigation. It may also involve investigatory conferences. Within 180 days, the investigation will be wrapped up and the Division will decide on whether probable cause that a discriminatory act occurred exists. Both the complainant and the respondent will be notified in writing of this decision.

Without probable cause, the complaint will be dismissed. The complainant will still have the option of appealing to the State Supreme Court within 60 days. Should probable cause be found, the case will be presented at a public hearing. The complainant and respondent will both be notified of the hearing in writing.

The complainant is welcome to retain counsel for the public hearing. If not, a Division attorney or agent will be tasked with presenting the complainant’s case. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will preside over the hearing and a Recommended Order will be prepared and provided to both parties for comment. The Commissioner’s Order will either dismiss the complaint or make a finding of discrimination. Should there be a finding of discrimination, the respondent may be ordered to cease and desist the discriminatory action as well as take appropriate steps to remedy the situation. The respondent may also be ordered to pay damages and back pay. Either party may appeal the decision to the State Supreme Court within 60 days. The Compliance Investigation Unit of the Division will follow up within one year to make sure that the respondent did, in fact, comply with the Order.

Employment Discrimination Attorney

Have you experienced discrimination in the workplace? Thomas M. Lancia PLLC will work with you to pursue all your options. Contact us today.


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