LIEB BLOG

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Showing posts with label Human Rights Law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Human Rights Law. Show all posts

Monday, July 25, 2022

Handicapped Parking Spaces Enforcement Updated

Starting on October 19, 2022, fines are going to be issued to any person who obstructs handicapped parking areas at a shopping center with one to four retail stores throughout New York State pursuant to S8822


That is not to say that this is all that can happen if landlords don't enforce and/or provide for handicapped parking at their shopping centers. Landlords who do not provide for access for the disabled can be sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state specific laws like the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL). So, such landlords should actively enforce their handicapped parking by also towing violators. Nonetheless, individuals who obstruct such spaces can't be sued under the ADA, so, it's a welcome sign that such obstructors will, at least, be ticketed for their thoughtless infraction.

 



Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Major New RE Landlord / Tenant & Brokerage Regulatory Law in NYS - BOOM

New York tenants will be receiving new notices about their rights to reasonable modifications and accommodations for persons with disabilities as of today


The Division of Human Rights has officially adopted 9 NYCRR 466.15 - see our prior blog on the topic here


The new law places a tremendous onus, with awesome exposure, on the following people: "the owner, lessee, sub-lessee, assignee, or managing agent of, or other person having the right to sell, rent or lease a housing accommodation, constructed or to be constructed, or any agent or employee thereof." The law applies to both private property and publicly-assisted housing. 


There is a special section in the law just for real estate brokers, who are now obligated to provide the notice at the first point of substantive contact.


Plus, every obligee must also prominently and conspicuously display a link to the notice "on the homepage of such website." Unfortunately, the link, which is supposed to "be made available by the Division," is not so available. 


Nonetheless, here is the official notice and it's language (if you haven't realized it yet, housing providers and their real estate brokers better get up to speed on providing reasonable accommodations and modifications today. Failure-to-accommodate lawsuits are about to be filed with record speed / frequency): 


NOTICE DISCLOSING TENANTS’ RIGHTS TO REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES Reasonable Accommodations The New York State Human Rights Law requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations or modifications to a building or living space to meet the needs of people with disabilities. For example, if you have a physical, mental, or medical impairment, you can ask your housing provider to make the common areas of your building accessible, or to change certain policies to meet your needs.


To request a reasonable accommodation, you should contact your property manager by calling ______________ or ______________, or by e-mailing ______________. (note: brokers may delete "by calling ______________ or ______________, or by e-mailing ______________.)


You will need to inform your housing provider that you have a disability or health problem that interferes with your use of housing, and that your request for accommodation may be necessary to provide you equal access and opportunity to use and enjoy your housing or the amenities and services normally offered by your housing provider. A housing provider may request medical information, when necessary to support that there is a covered disability and that the need for the accommodation is disability related. 


If you believe that you have been denied a reasonable accommodation for your disability, or that you were denied housing or retaliated against because you requested a reasonable accommodation, you can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights as described at the end of this notice.


Specifically, if you have a physical, mental, or medical impairment, you can request:

  • Permission to change the interior of your housing unit to make it accessible (however, you are required to pay for these modifications, and in the case of a rental your housing provider may require that you restore the unit to its original condition when you move out);
  • Changes to your housing provider’s rules, policies, practices, or services;
  • Changes to common areas of the building so you have an equal opportunity to use the building. The New York State Human Rights Law requires housing providers to pay for reasonable modifications to common use areas.

Examples of reasonable modifications and accommodations that may be requested under the New York State Human Rights Law include:

  • If you have a mobility impairment, your housing provider may be required to provide you with a ramp or other reasonable means to permit you to enter and exit the building. 
  • If your healthcare provider provides documentation that having an animal will assist with your disability, you should be permitted to have the animal in your home despite a “no pet” rule.
  • If you need grab bars in your bathroom, you can request permission to install them at your own expense. If your housing was built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 and the walls need to be reinforced for grab bars, your housing provider must pay for that to be done.
  • If you have an impairment that requires a parking space close to your unit, you can request your housing provider to provide you with that parking space, or place you at the top of a waiting list if no adjacent spot is available. 
  • If you have a visual impairment and require printed notices in an alternative format such as large print font, or need notices to be made available to you electronically, you can request that accommodation from your landlord.


Required Accessibility Standards 

All buildings constructed for use after March 13, 1991, are required to meet the following standards:

  • Public and common areas must be readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities;
  • All doors must be sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons in wheelchairs; and 
  • All multi-family buildings must contain accessible passageways, fixtures, outlets, thermostats, bathrooms, and kitchens.


If you believe that your building does not meet the required accessibility standards, you can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights.


How to File a Complaint

A complaint must be filed with the Division within one year of the alleged discriminatory act or in court within three years of the alleged discriminatory act. You can find more information on your rights, and on the procedures for filing a complaint, by going to www.dhr.ny.gov, or by calling 1-888-392-3644. You can obtain a complaint form on the website, or one can be e-mailed or mailed to you. You can also call or e-mail a Division regional office. The regional offices are listed on the website.




Monday, May 16, 2022

New NYS Discrimination Law Enacted - Victims of Domestic Violence Protected

On May 13, 2022, NYS protected victims of domestic violence from discrimination in credit, housing, educational institutions, employment agencies, and labor organizations. Even real estate brokers are subject to this law and everyone needs to know that they must treat victims with the respect and support that they need and deserve. 


While domestic violence victims have been protected from employment discrimination since 2019, within the state, the new law, S8417B, even expands this category by now making employment applications and advertisements subject to the law. 


Simply, if you are a victim of domestic violence, you have rights. This applies to the "1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men [who] will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime" according to CDC reports. Simply, you are not alone and if you experience discrimination you have the right to be compensated. 






Friday, May 06, 2022

Education Discrimination & Your Rights - What Victims Should Know

Education discrimination is illegal throughout the United States and in certain states, like New York, there are even greater protections, rights, and damages available to victims and their parents. 


When it comes to education, you and your child have a right to be free from harassment, bullying and other forms of wrongful discrimination that is perpetrated by teachers, the administration, or even other students (your peers). This applies to public schools, non-religious private schools, colleges and universities. Simply, you and your child can't be denied a right to learn because of who you are. 


Anti-discrimination laws in education apply regardless of whether the discrimination is explicit or implicit. While we've all heard about equal access to sports between the sexes / genders, or even teachers having sex with their students, discrimination lawsuits more commonly concern bullying of minorities, the failure to give testing accommodations to disabled students, and, even, the failure to extend days off to religious observers. Simply, it is the administration's duty to make education equally accessible to all and this failure can result in a lawsuit.  


On the federal level, Title IX of the Educational Amendments protects against sex discrimination while Title VI of the Civil Rights Act addresses race, color, and national origin discrimination, and finally Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects against disability discrimination. However, these federal laws on education discrimination were just limited by the Supreme Court and can, mostly, no longer result in victims receiving emotional distress or punitive damages.


Nonetheless, states, like New York, provide victims with the right to recover for their emotional distress and punitive damages. Moreover, New York adds protections by covering victims of discrimination with respect to additional categories, such as race, color, religion, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, age and marital status. New York even makes clear that it's own public school districts can be held accountable for discrimination based on an amendment to its laws from July 25, 2019, A3425.


If you or your child were a victim of education discrimination, it is important to act quickly and file your claim after hiring a lawyer. In New York State, claims against public school districts must be filed within 3 months after the discriminatory event. While the State's anti-discrimination laws otherwise provide up to 3 years for lawsuits against non-public schools (i.e., private schools / colleges / universities), it's nonetheless important to act quickly to preserve all the discriminatory evidence (i.e., audio / video), which is done by immediately sending what is known as a spoliation notice.


To be clear, discrimination victims, in New York, can recover compensatory damages (being made whole with emotional distress damages), punitive damages (punishment damages), and your attorneys' fees. The perpetrator can lose their license (if licensed as educators or otherwise), 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. 


Don't be afraid to speak-up. If you are advancing an anti-discrimination right for yourself or your child, you are protected from retaliation. Even if it is ultimately found that you or your child was not discriminated against, you both can nonetheless be compensated for facing unlawful coercion, intimidation, threats, or other types of interference with your anti-discrimination rights. Again, this is not just true if you are advancing your own rights, it also applies if you are raising your child's rights, or another student's rights, because anti-retaliation laws protect anyone who aids and/or encourages someone else in exercising their rights to be free from discrimination. 




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Monday, May 02, 2022

US Supreme Court Eliminates Availability of Emotional Distress Damages in Certain Discrimination Cases - Congress?

Discrimination victims may only recover compensatory damages and injunctive relief, not punitive damages or emotional distress damages, when they bring cases under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and Title IX of the Educational Amendments, unless Congress acts NOW! 


As a desk reference:

  1. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 bars funding recipients from discriminating because of disability;
  2. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act forbids race, color, and national origin discrimination in federally funded programs or activities; 
  3. Title IX of the Educational Amendments prohibits sex-based discrimination education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance; and
  4. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act outlaws discrimination on any of the proceeding grounds, in addition to age, by healthcare entities receiving federal funds.


Until April 28, 2022, it remained an open question whether discrimination victims could recover emotional distress damages under those 4 federal statutes. Without emotional distress damages, a victim's recovery is limited because discrimination under these statutes do not concern fixed damages, like in employment where there is back-pay and forward-pay. Instead, most victims only experience humiliation, frustration, and loss of dignity when they are discriminated in healthcare, education, or by general recipients of federal funding. Nonetheless, the US Supreme Court ruled that emotional distress damages are not recoverable in discrimination cases brought under these 4 statutes when it issued its decision in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller


The case involved an accommodation request by a deaf and legally blind physical therapy recipient who requested an American Sign Language Interpreter at her sessions. You know, so that she could communicate and all. But, the provider said no, which was clearly an act of discrimination and not at issue before the Court. Instead, the Court was faced with determining whether the discrimination victim could recover emotional distress damages under the applicable statutes. 


Stated otherwise, the Court was charged with determining what recovery was available to a victim of discrimination where the Court had previously ruled that punitive damages were unavailable under the 4 statutes. So, what was left? Shouldn't emotional distress damages compensate a victim for their terrible and dehumanizing experience? 


No, said the Supreme Court because these 4 statutes were enacted under Congress' Spending Clause authority and such statutes are analyzed as contracts where defendants must have received clear notice of exposure to emotional distress damages for them to be recoverable. 


Yet, this clearly devastating decision to discrimination victims also has a clear solution. Congress needs to amend these 4 statutes today and provide clear notice that emotional distress damages are recoverable in all discrimination cases. Congress needs to act now.