Permits awarding of reasonable attorneys' fees and costs and exemplary damages in court actions for unlawful discriminatory practices pursuant to the human rights law; provides incentive to the employer not to discriminate against the employee knowing there will be financial repercussions for their actions.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to awarding attorneys' fees and costs and exemplary damages in an action brought for an unlawful discriminatory practice
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
Permits awarding of reasonable attorneys' fees, costs and exemplary damages in court actions for unlawful discriminatory practices pursuant to the human rights law.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Amends Subdivision 9 of section 297 of the Executive Law.
Currently, if you feel that you are a victim of a human rights violation you can either file a suit with the Human Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or you may consult your own private lawyer. The latter can be a significant financial burden on the plaintiff costing an average of ten thousand dollars per case. The first choice will not prove any more feasible. Due to cutbacks and continual case overloading referring a case to either the Human Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will only result in the victim waiting an undetermined and inconvenient amount of time. This new legislation will serve multiple purposes. First, it will ease the financial burden on the victim by requiring the defendant to pay the victims attorney's fees upon being found guilty. Second, it will provide incentive to the employer not to discriminate against the employee knowing there will be financial repercussions for their actions.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2011-12- A.1284- Referred to Governmental Operations 2009-10- A.635 - Referred to Governmental Operations/S.2044- Referred to Investigations and Government Operations 2007-08-A.609 -Passed Assembly 2005-06-A.1235- Passed Assembly 2003-04-A.5022- Passed Assembly 2001-02:A.688-Referred to Governmental Operations
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Possible if the decision of the court is rendered against the defendant and the defendant happens to be the State.
This act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall have become a law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4372 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE March 25, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. KENNEDY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Investigations and Govern- ment Operations AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to awarding attorneys' fees and costs and exemplary damages in an action brought for an unlawful discriminatory practice THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 9 of section 297 of the executive law, as amended by section 16 of part D of chapter 405 of the laws of 1999, is amended to read as follows: 9. Any person claiming to be aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice shall have a cause of action in any court of appropriate juris- diction for damages, including, in cases of housing discrimination only, punitive damages, and UPON PREVAILING, SHALL RECOVER REASONABLE ATTOR- NEYS' FEES AND COSTS IN THE ACTION. IN ADDITION THERETO THE TRIER OF FACT MAY AWARD EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND such other remedies as may be appropriate, including any civil fines and penalties provided in subdi- vision four of this section, unless such person had filed a complaint hereunder or with any local commission on human rights, or with the superintendent pursuant to the provisions of section two hundred nine- ty-six-a of this chapter, provided that, where the division has dismissed such complaint on the grounds of administrative convenience, on the grounds of untimeliness, or on the grounds that the election of remedies is annulled, such person shall maintain all rights to bring suit as if no complaint had been filed with the division. At any time prior to a hearing before a hearing examiner, a person who has a complaint pending at the division may request that the division dismiss the complaint and annul his or her election of remedies so that the human rights law claim may be pursued in court, and the division may, upon such request, dismiss the complaint on the grounds that suchEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD01191-01-3 S. 4372 2
person's election of an administrative remedy is annulled. Notwithstand- ing subdivision (a) of section two hundred four of the civil practice law and rules, if a complaint is so annulled by the division, upon the request of the party bringing such complaint before the division, such party's rights to bring such cause of action before a court of appropri- ate jurisdiction shall be limited by the statute of limitations in effect in such court at the time the complaint was initially filed with the division. Any party to a housing discrimination complaint shall have the right within twenty days following a determination of probable cause pursuant to subdivision two of this section to elect to have an action commenced in a civil court, and an attorney representing the division of human rights will be appointed to present the complaint in court, or, with the consent of the division, the case may be presented by complainant's attorney. A complaint filed by the equal employment oppor- tunity commission to comply with the requirements of 42 USC 2000e-5(c) and 42 USC 12117(a) and 29 USC 633(b) shall not constitute the filing of a complaint within the meaning of this subdivision. No person who has initiated any action in a court of competent jurisdiction or who has an action pending before any administrative agency under any other law of the state based upon an act which would be an unlawful discriminatory practice under this article, may file a complaint with respect to the same grievance under this section or under section two hundred ninety- six-a of this article. S 2. This act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall have become a law.