On April 20, New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio signed a pair of bills designed to enhance the City Human Rights Commission’s investigative and enforcement efforts in the areas of employment and housing discrimination. The first of the two new laws requires the Commission to issue annual reports on the number and types of investigations it has initiated, and to disclose how many of its investigations resulted in civil actions. The second of the two laws requires the Commission to conduct at least five investigations per year that test for employment discrimination by using pairs of “testers” who apply for or express interest in a position and have similar job credentials, but who differ based on one or more protected classes, such as actual or perceived race, gender, disability, or national origin.
The testing investigations for discrimination in hiring will commence on October 1, 2015. The law requires the Commission to report on its findings annually and to report incidents of discrimination to its Law Enforcement Bureau for further assessment. It also provides for the hiring of additional staff to conduct the investigations.
The new laws are part of an ongoing effort by the DiBlasio administration to increase transparency in the Commission and bolster its efforts to investigate alleged violations of the New York City Human Rights Law.