New York Division of Human Rights Recovers Millions of Dollars for Employees

By Leeds Brown Law | March 11, 2017

The New York Division of Human Rights Recovers Millions for Discrimination Victims

The New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR), is the state agency that oversees the enforcement of New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL). NYSHRL prohibits, among other things, employment discrimination based on a number of factors. It is unlawful for a business with four or more employees in New York State to discriminate against a worker or applicant because of the following, sometimes called protected characteristics:

  • age
  • race
  • creed
  • color
  • religion
  • national origin
  • sexual orientation
  • military status
  • gender identity/transgender status
  • pregnancy/pregnancy related condition
  • sex
  • disability
  • predisposing genetic characteristics
  • familial status
  • marital status
  • status as a domestic violence victim
  • prior arrest or conviction record
  • opposition to discrimination retaliation

When an employee files a complaint with the NYSDHR, the agency begins an investigation which includes notifying your employer of the charges and, if appropriate, filing a copy of your complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that handles employment discrimination matters. At the conclusion of the investigation, if the DHR determines there is probable cause that discrimination occurred, it will present the matter at a public hearing. If the agency determines that there is no probable cause, the case gets dismissed. In the event of dismissal, the employee has 60 days to appeal the matter to the state supreme court.

Employment Discrimination Leads to Largest Recoveries

In February 2017 New York’s Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the DHR’s investigations during 2016 led to the recovery of millions of dollars for deserving New Yorkers. 921 individuals recovered a total of 5.2 million dollars because of investigations into employment, housing, and public accommodation discrimination. The DHR also issued penalties against employers in excess of $275,000, which gets paid to the state. As reported on the Governor’s website,, the largest compensation victories came from employment discrimination cases.

Some of the significant employment discrimination recoveries by DHR in 2016 were:

  • A utility company discriminated against an employee when it terminated him due to his disability, despite the fact that he could effectively perform his job duties. The employee won reinstatement to his job and $375,000 in lost wages and damages for emotional distress. DHR also imposed a $50,000 civil penalty on the employer.
  • A New York City teacher alleged her employer refused her request for a reasonable accommodation after she received an injury at work. The parties settled this matter for $164,000 in back wages for the teacher.
  • A female sales manager of a direct mail business alleged she faced gender discrimination in the form of unequal pay. The matter settled for $160,000.
  • A female employee of a collection agency faced sexual harassment and verbal abuse on a daily basis. She received $70,000, and DHR fined the employer $15,000, as a civil penalty.

Have You Experienced Discrimination in the Workplace?

Unlawful discrimination occurs in the workplace in various ways. When an employer makes a decision based on a protected characteristic, it can violate NYSHRL (or even Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a federal law). Discrimination can also include the harassment that’s based on a protected characteristic. Consider some examples that can help you understand if the conduct you are experiencing may be prohibited by law and entitle you to file a claim.

  • Your boss tells you that you can have a promotion if you have sex with her – Sex discrimination/sex harassment?
  • You apply for a job, and during your phone interview, they tell you that your qualifications are a perfect match and to please come in to discuss your job offer. When you arrive, and they see you are pregnant, they quickly tell you there was a misunderstanding, and you do not get the job. – Pregnancy discrimination?
  • You ask your supervisor for a day off to attend a court hearing in your domestic violence case against your ex-husband. He says no but allows your co-worker to take a day off to tend to a “personal matter.”- Discrimination based on your status as a domestic violence victim?
  • The company you work for keeps passing you over for a promotion despite years of hard work and documented excellence at your job. Promotions are routinely given to less qualified, Caucasian men. You are an African-American woman. – Racial discrimination? Gender discrimination?
  • Your co-workers harass you because they believe you are gay, calling you names, pushing you, making fun of you, and constantly asking you questions about your personal life. – Harassment/discrimination based on sexual orientation?

If any of these situations sound familiar to you or make you think twice about something going on at your place of employment, consider whether you might have a claim for unlawful workplace discrimination.

Contact Us

Leeds Brown Law, P.C. is a full-service employment firm representing clients who have experienced workplace discrimination in New York City, Long Island, and the surrounding areas. If your employer or a prospective employer has mistreated you or made a decision about your employment based on one of the protected categories above, you may be entitled to receive monetary compensation. Leeds Brown can help you get it.

Call employment discrimination attorneys for a free consultation at 1-800-585-4658. Someone is here to take your call 24/7.



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