its Civil Rights Laws
Compiled by GayToday
The civil rights groups called for the adoption of measures recommended in a scathing report from the New York City Bar Association, It Is Time to Enforce the Law: A Report on Fulfilling the Promise of the New York City Human Rights Law. The report charges that New York City has been failing to enforce its civil rights law.
"With the wounds reopened by the reversal of three convictions in the Abner Louima case, the need to unite the City is underlined anew. A clear, unequivocal commitment to anti-discrimination law enforcement -- important in its own right -- can also help heal the City," said Craig Gurian, principal author of the Bar Association report.
In the letter to Mayor Bloomberg and City Council leadership, the civil rights groups noted the sorry record of past years:
Organizations signing the February 28 letter include Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, Lambda Legal, National Employment Law Project, Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the New York City chapters of the National Employment Lawyers Association and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Juan Figueroa, executive director of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, said: "If the Commission is serious about addressing housing discrimination, there is one proven way it can do so: testing.
"For New Yorkers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, our primary legal protection against discrimination is provided by the local human rights law. But because we have had no real enforcement by the City, this protection has been an empty promise for gay people and everybody else. It is high time that changed."
Anne Davis, the director of Legal Affairs and Programs of the New York City Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said: "Like any law enforcement agency, the Commission has got to act promptly on cases it gets in the future.
"People with progressive illnesses who have been turned down for a job because of their illness need a hearing while they are still able to work, and before years of delay make it impossible for a fact-finder to understand that the employer really could have accommodated them at the time the applicant applied for the job."
Gurian, the principal author of the Bar Association report, said:
"The single most frightening thing to discriminators and their lawyers is the prospect of an anti-discrimination agency having the ability to jump on a meritorious case the day it is filed, and to investigate and prosecute that case relentlessly until justice is done. The Commission on Human Rights needs to become such an agency."