LIEB BLOG

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Showing posts with label anti-discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anti-discrimination. Show all posts

Friday, April 22, 2022

Housing Discrimination & Your Rights - What Victims Should Know

Discrimination in real estate is illegal throughout the United States and in certain states, like New York, there are even greater protections, rights, and damages available to victims.


Whether you were discriminated against by a seller, landlord, tenant co-op, condo, HOA, lender, real estate broker / salesperson, or property manager, you are entitled to compensation. This is true in housing and at places of public accommodation (i.e., shopping center, professional office, retail store, educational institution, recreational facility, and service center). This is often even true if the discrimination was unintentional or caused by the perpetrator's implicit biases.


Anti-discrimination rights and protections entitle victims to sue for compensation if discrimination occurred because of your protected status / protected class, which statuses / classes vary throughout the United States, but may include your race, ethnic background, visible traits (hair texture, hairstyle, donning of religious garments or items), color, national origin, citizenship status, alienage status, immigration status, lawful source of income (subsidy recipient status), occupation, religion, creed, marital status, partnership status, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (transgender status), domestic violence victim status, stalking victim status, sex offense victim status, familial status, pregnancy, presence of children, handicap (disability), age, military status, uniformed service, veteran status, first responder status, arrest record, and sealed conviction record.


The law prevents real estate / housing providers from changing the terms, conditions, privileges, and/or availability of property based on your protected class status. It requires real estate brokers / salespersons to give you written disclosures that advise you of your rights. It prevents you from being treated differently from others where only the terms of your offer matter, not who you are.


If you are handicapped / disabled, you are also entitled to receive reasonable accommodations (change to policies / procedures / rules) and reasonable modification (change to structure) so that you can equally use and enjoy property. Plus, your actual diagnosis need not be fully revealed and can remain confidential when you seek such an accommodation / modification. Better yet, the cost of the accommodation cannot be charged to you, and in places like New York City, this is also true for the cost of modifications. The most common handicap / disability cases that we see involve service animals / emotional support animals in no pet properties, preferential / parking and ingress / egress ramps for mobility impairments, and other failure-to-accommodate cases. We are also involved in ADA failure-to-remove barrier cases and more. When it comes to handicapped / disabled people, it's all about providing access. 


If you receive subsidies, like Section 8 (Housing Choice Vouchers), or you are unemployed (i.e., retired, spousal / child support recipient, trust fund baby, student, disabled), your source of income cannot impact your housing choices. You are protected from offensive signage, improper applications, and/or wrongful questionnaires if they inquire about your employment status, request your W-2, or even solicit a letter of employment. Simply, seeing your voucher cannot be a prerequisite to seeing / viewing an apartment. Where you get the rent should be no one's business. 


Don't be afraid to speak-up. If you are advancing a fair housing and/or anti-discrimination right, you are protected from retaliation. Even if it is ultimately found that you were not discriminated against, you can nonetheless be compensated for facing unlawful coercion, intimidation, threats, or other types of interference with your anti-discrimination rights. This is not just true if you are advancing your own rights, it also applies if you are an ally who is aiding and/or encouraging someone else to exercise their rights to be free from discrimination.


Fair housing laws make housing available to everyone without stigma, loss of dignity, or other harms. If you are a victim, you can recover compensatory damages (being made whole), punitive damages (punishment damages), and your attorneys' fees. The perpetrator can lose their license (if licensed), be required to take trainings, and be ordered to stop their offensive behavior. There are fines and more. Discrimination is wrong and must be stopped.



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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

New NYS / Local Government Fair Housing Enforcement Obligations

As of 12/21/2021, all state agencies administering housing programs or enforcing housing laws and all localities administering housing programs and receiving funds from the state for such activities are now required to affirmatively further fair housing.


What this means is that the state and local governments will actively seek to create more diverse, inclusive communities. They will do this, according to the new law (S1353A), by:

  1. Identifying and overcoming patterns of residential segregation & housing discrimination;
  2. Eradicating racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty;
  3. Reducing disparities in access to opportunities;
  4. Eliminating disproportionate housing needs;
  5. Providing the public reasonable & regular opportunities to comment on fair housing issues & participate in the development & advancement of affirmative fair housing policy; &
  6. Encouraging & maintaining compliance with Article 15 of the Executive law & any other applicable anti-discrimination or fair housing law. 
While this all sounds grand, it's really just aspirational because there are no concrete actions contained in this law, except that an annual report will be available to the public. Only through calling government on the report, will concrete change really happen.



Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Housing Discrimination - Updated Protected Classes List - As Applicable to Downstate New York

We are always updating our CE courses at Lieb School because the law is constantly changing. 


While the law changes on every topic, there is no field that seems to be evolving today more than anti-discrimination law. So, we thought it important to share our updated definitive lists of protected classes within downstate New York for Fair Housing and Discrimination Law.


Note - While these lists are similar for employment discrimination law, there are minor differences in protections between the two fields and you should consult with an attorney should you have any questions.


Fair Housing Act:

  1. Race
  2. Color
  3. National origin
  4. Religion
  5. Sex
  6. Familial status
  7. Handicap

New York State Human Rights Law
  1. Race
  2. Creed
  3. Color
  4. National origin
  5. Sexual orientation
  6. Gender identity or expression (transgender)
  7. Military status
  8. Sex
  9. Age
  10. Disability
  11. Marital status
  12. Lawful source of income
  13. Familial status
  14. Arrest / sealed conviction record
  15. Domestic violence victim status (lease / occupancy only)

New York City Human Rights Law
  1. Race
  2. Creed 
  3. Color 
  4. National origin 
  5. Gender 
  6. Age 
  7. Disability 
  8. Sexual orientation 
  9. Uniformed service
  10. Marital status 
  11. Partnership status 
  12. Immigration or citizenship status
  13. Lawful source of income 
  14. Presence of children 
  15. Occupation
  16. Victim of domestic violence, stalking or sex offenses

Westchester Fair Housing Law:
  1. Race
  2. Color
  3. Religion
  4. Age
  5. National origin
  6. Alienage or citizenship status
  7. Ethnicity
  8. Familial status
  9. Creed
  10. Gender
  11. Sexual orientation
  12. Marital status 
  13. Disability 
  14. Source of income
  15. Status as victim of domestic violence, sexual abuse, or stalking

Nassau County Fair Housing (Open Housing)
  1. Race
  2. Creed
  3. Color
  4. Gender
  5. Disability
  6. Age 
  7. Religion
  8. Source of income
  9. Veteran status 
  10. Sexual orientation
  11. Familial status 
  12. Marital status
  13. Ethnicity  
  14. National origin
  15. First responder status
  16. Visible traits of an individual such as natural hair texture, protective hairstyles & donning of religious garments or items and shall include segregation

Suffolk County Human Rights Law:
  1. Race
  2. Color
  3. Creed
  4. Age
  5. National origin
  6. Alienage / citizenship
  7. Gender
  8. Sexual orientation 
  9. Disability
  10. Marital status 
  11. Sex
  12. Familial status
  13. Military status 
  14. Visible traits of an individual, such as natural hair texture, protective hairstyles & donning of religious garments or items
  15. Lawful source of income
  16. Veteran status
  17. Victim of domestic violence

To remind everyone, the federal law is the floor under which states and locales may not fall. Plus, there are often city / town / village anti-discrimination laws that are also relevant and must be respected in housing.

Discrimination is wrong and should be eliminated through trainings, policies, and lawsuits. As a society, we have to utilize all of the tools in our arsenal to make housing available to everyone irrespective of demographics.

Help us to get the word out on this one. It's important because unless everyone knows the protections, no one is really protected.





Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Planning to Profit Off the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill? You Better Start Your Anti-Discrimination Trainings Today

According to the current version of the INVEST in America Act, which passed the Senate on August 10, 2021, all "contractors and subcontractors utilized in carrying out activities funded under title 23, United States Code, should institute respectful workplace policies and provide effective, ongoing workplace training to create safe, respectful work sites that are free from bullying, hazing, discrimination, or harassment." 

For clarity, title 23 of the United States Code is the law about highways. So, if you plan on working on the highways, anti-discrimination trainings must start now!


Do you think that this should be part of the law?


Is anti-discrimination training needed?


Either way, this is a signal that discrimination lawsuits are happening with increased frequency. So, protect yourself today and learn the law. 




Wednesday, July 28, 2021

John Oliver Tackles Fair Housing - Newsday's Long Island Divided is on HBO

If you still don't understand that housing discrimination happens or if you are confused about the long term impacts of discrimination, you need to watch this great explanation of housing discrimination on HBO by John Oliver - it's a must watch for anyone who doesn't understand that housing discrimination from yesterday impacts lives today. 


Alternatively, here is The Lieb Cast tackling the same issue on our podcast back on January 31, 2021. 


Who does the topic better; Lieb or Oliver?


Shouldn't John have Lieb on his show?


What do you think?