senate Bill S4372

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Permits awarding of reasonable attorneys' fees, costs and exemplary damages in court actions for unlawful discriminatory practices pursuant to the human rights law

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

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Actions

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 08, 2014 referred to investigations and government operations
Mar 25, 2013 referred to investigations and government operations

S4372 - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A642
Current Committee:
Senate Investigations And Government Operations
Law Section:
Executive Law
Laws Affected:
Amd ยง297, Exec L
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Sessions:
2011-2012: A1284
2009-2010: A635

S4372 - Bill Texts

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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.

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BILL NUMBER:S4372

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.

JUSTIFICATION:

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.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall have
become a law.

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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  4372

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                             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  such

 EXPLANATION--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.

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