Failure to Provide Goods and Services Based on Sexual Orientation
Under the New York City Human Rights Law, public accommodations may not discriminate against someone based on certain protected characteristics, including sexual orientation. The New York City Commission on Human Rights enforces the city law, and it is possible to file a complaint with the Commission's Law Enforcement Bureau within a year of the discriminatory act. However, for serious violations of the New York City Human Rights Law, it may be appropriate to file a lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court. This must be done within three years of the discriminatory conduct. If you have been affected by a failure to provide goods and services based on sexual orientation, you should consult the experienced lawyers at Phillips & Associates. Our New York City sexual orientation discrimination attorneys may be able to provide legal counsel and representation.Failure to Provide Goods and Services Based on Sexual Orientation
Under the New York City Human Rights Law, it is illegal for public accommodations to discriminate against anyone because they actually are or because they are perceived to be homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, or asexual. Public accommodations cannot refuse, withhold, or deny to anybody the goods and services of the public accommodation.
Public accommodations are defined broadly under Administrative Code § 8-102 (9) and include both licensed and unlicensed providers of goods and services, as well as places where goods and services of any kind are offered, sold, extended, or otherwise made available. Under case law, the term "public accommodations" can include an agency that issues birth certificates. It may also include private dentist's offices, private boating organizations, the New York Marathon, the trading floor of a commodities exchange, an investment stock trading company, and the New York City Human Resources Administration.
The provisions of the New York City Human Rights Law are supposed to be construed broadly to allow for its remedial purposes to be accomplished. Generally, the law is supposed to be interpreted in favor of discrimination plaintiffs to the extent that the construction is reasonably possible. However, the broad definition does not include clubs that are able to show that their nature is distinctly private.
No public accommodation should refuse to provide goods or services to you based on your sexual orientation, and you may have a discrimination claim if it does. For example, if you are called homophobic names at your school, but the school refuses to take action to protect you so that you can enjoy the school's services, this may be public accommodation discrimination. Similarly, if you are shopping for clothes in a retail store with your boyfriend and kiss, and you are then asked to leave because the manager believes that you are gay, while heterosexual couples doing the same are allowed to stay, this may be sexual orientation discrimination.
A taxi is also a public accommodation. If a taxi driver refuses to transport your boyfriend and you somewhere due to his perceiving that you are gay, you may have a claim for sexual orientation discrimination. You should note the cab's medallion number, the driver's name, the license number, and the time, date, and location and request a receipt to support your reports to the Taxi and Limousine Commission and the Commission on Human Rights.
You can file a civil lawsuit for a public accommodation's failure to provide goods or services based on your sexual orientation under both the New York City Human Rights Law and the New York State Human Rights Law. In one case, the owners of facilities that were used for weddings and wedding receptions refused to allow a same-sex couple to get married there. The owners unsuccessfully tried to argue that their decision to deny the same-sex couple was based on their religious beliefs about same-sex marriage. The court reasoned that the act of entering into a same-sex marriage is inextricably tied to sexual orientation and that for the purposes of the New York State Human Rights Law, there was no basis for distinguishing between discrimination based on sexual orientation and discrimination based on the conduct of someone publicly committing to someone of the same sex.Seek Guidance and Representation from a New York City Attorney
At Phillips & Associates, our attorneys help clients fight many different kinds of public accommodation discrimination, including a failure to provide goods and services based on sexual orientation or transgender status. If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual orientation discrimination, contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form to set up a free consultation. We handle public accommodation discrimination litigation in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as in Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties and in New Jersey.
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