How current events impact business & real estate

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

Monday, July 19, 2021

Attention Mom & Pop Landlords & Tenants - New Anti-Discrimination Law

Ever see a landlord renting the second unit in their two-family residence who posted a sign in the window stating "whites only," or what about a landlord asking a prospective tenant for their religious affiliation with the intention of refusing to rent to persons of a particular creed? 

Effective July 16, 2021, that is illegal in the State of New York. 

Previously there was an exemption to anti-discrimination laws that permitted this despicable behavior when a landlord was renting an owner-occupied two-family unit, known as Mrs. Murphy Law.

Now, under Executive Law 296, all property in this state is subject to the same law for discriminatory advertising - it is unlawful to print or circulate or cause to be printed or circulated any statement, advertisement or publication, or to use any form of application, or to make any record or inquiry which expresses, directly or indirectly, any limitation, specification or discrimination as to race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, or familial status, or any intent to make any such limitation, specification or discrimination.

Are you happy that New York State is increasing accessibility and equality for all; or, do you miss the good old days when you could be a miserable bigot? 

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Increased Fair Housing Enforcement is Coming Per President

According to today's White House Press Release, "President Biden issued a memorandum directing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to address discrimination in our housing market." 

In doing so, the President has charged the Secretary of HUD to lead an "interagency initiative to address inequity in home appraisals" while citing to a study that found "homes in majority-Black neighborhoods are often valued at tens of thousands of dollars less than comparable homes in similar—but majority-White—communities."

Next week, HUD is publishing a new disparate impact discrimination rule in the federal register to address neutral housing policies that have a discriminatory impact on marginalized groups. 

Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Suing a Town for Discrimination? Case Says That You Better Notice Them Quickly or Your Case Will Be Dismissed

In a recent case of interest, Elco v. Aguiar (Supreme Court, Suffolk County), a town public safety dispatcher asserted that she was discriminated against by the town in her job when the town injected itself into her child custody dispute with another town police department employee. She alleged discrimination because of her gender/sex, disability, & familial status while also alleging that she was subject to a hostile work environment. 

Some specific factual allegations that she made of discrimination were as follows:
  1. Refusal to accept domestic incident reports concerning child custody or family court orders;
  2. Reassigned shifts; 
  3. Harassment or stalking campaign against her;
  4. Accusations levelled at her regarding her fitness as a mother;
  5. Denied opportunities of earning overtime;
  6. Denied an opportunity to participate in interviewing new hires & supervisees; &
  7. Failure to process her insurance buyback forms.
That being said, the town moved to dismiss on a technicality in arguing that its "municipal notice of claim requirement residing in Town Law §67, [requires] the filing of a notice of claim within three months after her claim arose []as a condition precedent to the maintenance of this action against the defendants."

The Court agreed and granted dismissal. 

Moving forward, town employees better file a notice of claim within three months of the alleged discrimination or they will be out of luck in bringing an employment discrimination lawsuit.

Do you think that it's fair that town employees have three months to file whereas private employees have three years to file the same employment discrimination lawsuits? 

Monday, February 08, 2021

Implicit Bias Discrimination Trainings in the Face of EO 13950 Restriction

Anti-discrimination trainings start with learning that we all have implicit biases. However, President Trump had blocked training this topic by Executive Order in many different situations. Well, the federal courts took none of that and have permitted implicit bias trainings again. Andrew Lieb provides an update in the Suffolk Lawyer, Law Journal.

Read the full published article HERE.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

NYS Senate Report on Fair Housing - Changes Coming to RE Brokerage - Get Ready NOW

A 97 page report was just issued by the NYS Senate on persistent racial and ethnicity-related housing discrimination and this report is going to change the real estate brokerage industry in NYS forever. 

Are you ready? 

According to the report, housing discrimination has changed over the last hundred years from being overt to subvert. However, housing discrimination clearly still exists and something has to be done about it now. 

Would it surprise you to learn that in 2019 there were 28,880 reported complaints of housing discrimination in the USA? Again, twenty-eight thousand complaints!!!

Did you know that the precursor to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) required its members to discriminate as follows:

A Realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood a character of property or occupancy, members of any race or nationality or individuals whose presence will clearly be detrimental to property values in that neighborhood. 

While this overt discrimination is less prevalent today, the report explains that: 

Today, bad actors often use subtler forms of discrimination; they direct homebuyers of different apparent backgrounds toward different communities, impose more stringent financial requirements on people of color, and provide unequal services to clients based upon their race or ethnicity.

[S]ome real estate agents utilize subtle ways to discriminate, like racially coded guidance and disparate treatment in services offered.

In acknowledging that real estate brokers and agents are the gatekeepers for neighborhoods, the report makes the following categories of recommendations:

  1. Develop a NYS Fair Housing Strategy
  2. More Proactive Enforcement of Fair Housing Laws (i.e., testing, more funding, & data collection)
  3. Licensing & Renewal Training Requirements (i.e., more training from better instructors for licensing & continuing education with a focus on implicit bias trainings)
  4. Increased Penalties & Broader Accountability (i.e., $2K fines increased from $1K & managers responsible like brokers with increased experience requirements to qualify)
  5. Standardized Broker Policies with Public (i.e., prospect identification, exclusive broker agreement requirements, & pre-approval for mortgages)
  6. Internal Brokerage Policies (i.e., brokerages need updated policy manuals with fair housing statements & explanations of the consequences for violations)
  7. State & Local Governments to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (i.e., enforcement is everyone's responsibility) 
  8. Brokers Must Open Offices in Communities of Color (i.e., 12 firms control 50% of listings, but only about 20% to 33% of the listings in minority communities)
  9. More Diverse Brokerage Workforce (i.e., NAR's members are 80% white; need Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion initiatives to attract talent to the industry) 
The report also suggests, that brokers fund these recommendations by charging between $10 & $30 for license renewal to the 130,578 real estate brokerage licensees in NYS.

Are you ready yet? 

There are eleven new pieces of legislation supported in this report and because our state has a one-party controlled government, they are likely going to pass quickly.

Brokers, Salespersons, and other industry participants, like landlords, property managers, and attorneys need to get ahead of this now and make proactive changes to their practices today. The alternative is defending the next wave of enforcement initiatives. 

In reminding everyone of this salient fact, the report quoted Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in saying:

There is very little truth in the old refrain that one cannot legislate equality. Laws not only provide concrete benefits, they can even change the hearts of men some men, anyhow for good or evil.

It's time to change from being part of the problem to being part of the solution. Are you ready?