Failure to Provide Goods and Services Based on Race
Under the New York City Human Rights Law, public accommodations are forbidden to discriminate against customers based on a number of protected characteristics, including race. If you face a New York City establishment's failure to provide goods or services based on race, you may have a basis to file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights or a civil lawsuit. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City race discrimination lawyers may be able to counsel and represent you.Failure to Provide Goods and Services Based on Race
Any establishment that provides goods and services to the general public is considered a public establishment. It is an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person, including an owner, manager, agent, employee, or superintendent of any provider or place of public accommodation, to refuse to provide full and equal enjoyment of services or goods based on your actual or perceived race.
In some cases, the kinds of comments made may suggest that the failure to provide goods or services is based on more than one protected characteristic. For example, if you are a black transgender person of Jewish faith, and a bakery refuses to bake your wedding cake and deliver it to a Jewish community center, you may not be sure whether your religion, gender, or race was the reason why you faced discrimination. An experienced attorney can look closely at the circumstances and investigate to determine how to frame your complaint.
You have up to one year after being denied goods or services based on your race to file a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights. If you file a claim with the Commission on Human Rights, the Commission will have broad discretion to decide how to conduct its investigation into the race discrimination. It may speak to the public accommodation several times, interview the public accommodation's witnesses, and review any documentary evidence or recordings of the discriminatory words or conduct that you provide. The Commission's findings of fact will be considered conclusive if substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole supports them. Substantial evidence is relevant proof that a reasonable mind would consider adequate to support an ultimate fact or conclusion.
The Commission has the authority to impose penalties on the public accommodation, but in cases involving a failure to provide goods or services in which you sustained losses, it may be wiser to consult an attorney about whether you may have a viable basis to sue in civil court.
In one public accommodation race discrimination case, an African-American woman alleged that she was denied a public accommodation in the form of a hair appointment for her wedding. She was asked about her race and said that she was black. She missed the appointment because of a conflict, and the hair salon left her a voicemail in which the salon called her the n-word and made other derogatory comments. She was called the n-word in another conversation as well.
An administrative law judge issued a report, finding that the salon had discriminated against the woman due to her race and recommending compensatory damages of $7,500 and a civil penalty of $15,000. The New York Supreme Court reviewed the decision at the request of the hair salon, and it found that the record indicated that the salon owner made discriminatory comments that she refused to do business with people of a specific race. The court reasoned that the relief provided by the Commissioner needed only to be reasonably related to the discriminatory actions. Unless the award is so arbitrary and capricious as to be an abuse of discretion, it will not be found erroneous as a matter of law.
You have up to three years after a failure to provide goods or services based on race to file a civil lawsuit. However, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible after the incident or incidents in question because as time passes, evidence can vanish. There are limits on the penalties that the Commission can impose. In contrast, in a civil lawsuit based on a violation of the New York City Human Rights Law and common law claims, you may be able to recover your losses, punitive damages, injunctive relief, and other remedies.Hire a Knowledgeable Discrimination Lawyer in New York City
An experienced race discrimination attorney can look at the circumstances that you faced in connection with public accommodation discrimination to decide on which protected characteristics would support a claim. If you believe that you have been a victim of a failure to provide goods or services based on race in New York City, contact Phillips & Associates at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form for a free consultation. We handle litigation based on discrimination and sexual harassment in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as in Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties and in New Jersey.
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