Anti-Discrimination Law Takes Effect on November 18, 2017

Starting on November 18, 2017, the NYC Human Rights law went into effect to provide new protections for veterans and servicemembers from discrimination in housing, employment, and places of public accommodation. Take a look at our Lunch & Learn conversation with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, NYC Department of Veterans' Services, and the NYC Veterans Alliance about this important new legislation, and see important details below:

Local Law 119-2017 protects veterans and current members of:

-- U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard

-- Air National Guard, Army National Guard, U.S. or state military reserves, organized militia of any U.S. state or territory

-- Commissioned Corps of NOAA and U.S. Public Health Service

The law applies to:

-- Employers and prospective employers

-- Real estate agents, management companies, landlords, and property owners

-- All businesses and facilities that are open to the public

The law prohibits:

Discrimination in the terms or conditions of employment, or any limit on employment in advertisements, interviews, or other statements because of a person’s military service

Discrimination against a person in the sale or rental of any housing or the communication of any discrimination in advertising because of a person’s military service.

Denying a person the full and equal enjoyment of any accommodations, services, facilities, or privileges of a public place because of the person’s military service

Retaliation against any person for opposing discrimination, reporting discrimination either internally or externally, or cooperation or assisting in an investigation or proceeding related to actions prohibited under the Human Rights Law

Important points to know:

-- The discriminatory incident must have occurred in NYC to be covered by this law.

-- To establish discrimination, a relationship must exist between the people involved, such as employer/employee, tenant/landlord, or customer/public accommodation

-- Lawful sources of income, such as G.I. Bill educational benefits, cannot be cause for refusal of housing by landlords or brokers

-- Privileges and preferences based on a person’s military service are not prohibited, such as discounts and promotions offered by businesses

-- To file a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, the last incident of discrimination must have occurred within the last year

-- Individuals may bypass the Commission and file a complaint in New York State courts up to three years after the last discriminatory act

-- Violators can be required to pay damages, a fine, or be subject to additional mandated training or posting requirements

Note: This law does not address discharge status or potential conduct that may have led to someone’s discharge. Separate protections exist in NYC’s Human Rights law for any discrimination or other biases that may be related to discharge status, such as one’s disability or sexual orientation.

How to address discrimination:

If you think you've experienced discrimination because of your military service, contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights by calling 311 or calling the Commission's helpline directly at 718-722-3131

You may also file a complaint through a private attorney. Veterans, servicemembers, and family members can contact NY Serves at 1-844-347-9244 for help in finding legal services.

Special thanks to the Members of the NYC Veterans Alliance who shared their experiences with discrimination and who advocated tirelessly for the introduction and passage of this law. Thanks also to Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Member Jumaane Williams who introduced and championed this bill.