senate Bill S5874

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Relates to the provision of attorney's fees in cases of housing, employment or credit discrimination

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Archive: Last Bill Status - Passed Senate


  • 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
Jun 18, 2014 referred to codes
delivered to assembly
passed senate
ordered to third reading cal.1507
Jan 08, 2014 referred to rules
returned to senate
died in assembly
Jun 21, 2013 referred to codes
delivered to assembly
passed senate
ordered to third reading cal.1583
Jun 18, 2013 referred to rules

Votes

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Jun 18, 2014 - Rules committee Vote

S5874
23
1
committee
23
Aye
1
Nay
0
Aye with Reservations
0
Absent
1
Excused
0
Abstained
show Rules committee vote details

Jun 21, 2013 - Rules committee Vote

S5874
24
0
committee
24
Aye
0
Nay
1
Aye with Reservations
0
Absent
0
Excused
0
Abstained
show Rules committee vote details

Co-Sponsors

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S5874 - Bill Details

Current Committee:
Assembly Codes
Law Section:
Executive Law
Laws Affected:
Amd §§297 & 296-a, Exec L

S5874 - Bill Texts

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Relates to the provision of attorney's fees in cases of housing, employment or credit discrimination.

view sponsor memo
BILL NUMBER:S5874 REVISED 6/26/13

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to the
provision of attorney's fees in cases of housing, employment or credit
discrimination; to amend the executive law, in relation to the
awarding of reasonable attorney's fees

Purpose:

This bill would enact part of the New York Women's Agenda, which would
break down barriers that perpetuate discrimination and inequality
based on gender. New York State has a proud history and tradition of
leading the nation in progressive ideals and reforms. This is
especially so with respect to women's rights. In 1848, the women's
suffrage movement was born at the first Women's Rights Convention in
Seneca Falls, New York, From that moment in time and continuing
through today, the state has been the home of female leaders and
visionaries, from Elizabeth Cady Stanton who initiated the first
organized women's rights and women's suffrage movements, to Audre
Lorde, a leading African-American poet and essayist who gave voice to
women's issues, and Gloria Steinem, the journalist, author and
activist These New Yorkers have served as role models for not only
their generation but for every generation to come

Over the years, New Yolk has fallen behind in its role as a
progressive. leader on women's rights. Today, statistics clearly show
that women in New York State are not treated equally to men Study
after study shows gender inequality in our communities where women
face discrimination in housing because of their domestic violence
victim status

The New York Women's Agenda will break down barriers that perpetuate
discrimination and inequality based on gender. New York has served as
a model for equality and fairness on several issues including women's
rights. The New York Women's Agenda will return the State to its
rightful place as a leader on women's equality.

Summary of Bills:

3) Attorney's Fees

This bill would amend Exec. L § 297 to provide for attorney's fees in
employment or credit discrimination cases when sex is a basis of
discrimination and retain the existing allowance for attorney's fees
in housing and housing related credit cases. It would similarly amend
Exec. L. § 296-a to permit the awarding of attorney's fees in credit
discrimination cases when sex is a basis of discrimination in matters
brought before the Department of Financial Services

Existing Law:

These bills would impact existing protections that are available under
the Executive Law.

Statement in Support:


* Allowing for the Recovery of Attorney's Fees in Employment and
Credit and Lending Cases

Under existing law, attorney's fees for employment and credit and
lending sex discrimination cases are not available even after the
plaintiff proves discrimination at trial. As a result (a) many who are
discriminated against but cannot afford to hire an attorney never seek
redress. (b) those who hire an attorney on a contingency fee
arrangement are not "made whole" for their losses because they must
pay for their attorneys out of their recovery; and (C) some who cannot
afford to hire an attorney, but who try to do so on a contingency
basis, are unsuccessful because the case is either too small or too
risky. This bill would allow for reasonable attorney's fees in
employment and credit discrimination cases when sex is a basis of
discrimination.

Budget Implications:

This bill has no budget implications for the State.

Effective Date: This bill would take effect 90 days after enactment.

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

                                  5874

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                              June 18, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by Sen. LITTLE -- (at request of the Governor) -- read twice
  and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee
  on Rules

AN ACT to amend the executive law,  in  relation  to  the  provision  of
  attorney's  fees  in  cases of housing, employment or credit discrimi-
  nation; to amend the executive law, in relation  to  the  awarding  of
  reasonable attorney's fees

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Subdivision 10 of section 297  of  the  executive  law,  as
added  by  section  17  of part D of chapter 405 of the laws of 1999, is
amended to read as follows:
  10. With respect to ALL cases of HOUSING  DISCRIMINATION  AND  housing
RELATED  CREDIT  discrimination [only] in an action or proceeding at law
under this section or section two hundred ninety-eight of this  article,
the  commissioner  or  the  court may in its discretion award reasonable
attorney's fees to any prevailing or substantially prevailing party; AND
WITH RESPECT TO A CLAIM OF EMPLOYMENT OR CREDIT DISCRIMINATION WHERE SEX
IS A BASIS OF SUCH DISCRIMINATION, IN AN ACTION  OR  PROCEEDING  AT  LAW
UNDER  THIS SECTION OR SECTION TWO HUNDRED NINETY-EIGHT OF THIS ARTICLE,
THE COMMISSIONER OR THE COURT MAY IN  ITS  DISCRETION  AWARD  REASONABLE
ATTORNEY'S  FEES  ATTRIBUTABLE  TO  SUCH  CLAIM TO ANY PREVAILING PARTY;
provided, however, that a prevailing respondent or defendant in order to
recover such reasonable attorney's fees must make  a  motion  requesting
such  fees and show that the action or proceeding brought was frivolous;
and further provided that in a proceeding brought  in  the  division  of
human rights, the commissioner may only award attorney's fees as part of
a  final  order after a public hearing held pursuant to subdivision four
of this section. In no case shall attorney's  fees  be  awarded  to  the
division,  nor  shall the division be liable to a prevailing or substan-
tially prevailing party for attorney's fees, except in a case  in  which

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD12051-01-3

S. 5874                             2

the  division  is  a  party to the action or the proceeding in the divi-
sion's capacity as an employer.  IN CASES OF EMPLOYMENT  DISCRIMINATION,
A  RESPONDENT SHALL ONLY BE LIABLE FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES UNDER THIS SUBDI-
VISION  IF  THE RESPONDENT HAS BEEN FOUND LIABLE FOR HAVING COMMITTED AN
UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATORY  PRACTICE.  In  order  to  find  the  action  or
proceeding  to  be frivolous, the court or the commissioner must find in
writing one or more of the following:
  (a) the action or proceeding was commenced, used or continued  in  bad
faith, solely to delay or prolong the resolution of the litigation or to
harass or maliciously injure another; or
  (b)  the  action or proceeding was commenced or continued in bad faith
without any reasonable basis and could not be supported by a good  faith
argument  for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law. If
the action or proceeding was promptly discontinued  when  the  party  or
attorney  learned  or  should have learned that the action or proceeding
lacked such a reasonable basis, the court may find that the party or the
attorney did not act in bad faith.
  S 2. Paragraph c of subdivision 7 of section 296-a  of  the  executive
law,  as  amended by chapter 632 of the laws of 1976, is amended to read
as follows:
  c. If the superintendent finds that a violation of  this  section  has
occurred,  the superintendent shall issue an order which shall do one or
more of the following:
  (1) impose a fine in an amount not to exceed ten thousand dollars  for
each violation, to be paid to the people of the state of New York;
  (2)  award  compensatory  damages  to  the  person  aggrieved  by such
violation;
  (3) FOR A CLAIM OF SEX DISCRIMINATION ONLY,  AWARD  REASONABLE  ATTOR-
NEY'S FEES ATTRIBUTABLE TO SUCH CLAIM TO ANY PREVAILING PARTY; PROVIDED,
HOWEVER,  THAT  A PREVAILING RESPONDENT OR DEFENDANT IN ORDER TO RECOVER
SUCH REASONABLE ATTORNEY'S FEES MUST MAKE A MOTION REQUESTING SUCH  FEES
AND SHOW THAT THE ACTION OR PROCEEDING BROUGHT WAS FRIVOLOUS. IN NO CASE
SHALL  ATTORNEY'S  FEES  BE  AWARDED  TO  THE  DEPARTMENT, NOR SHALL THE
DEPARTMENT BE LIABLE TO A PREVAILING PARTY FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES. IN ORDER
TO FIND THE ACTION OR PROCEEDING TO  BE  FRIVOLOUS,  THE  SUPERINTENDENT
MUST FIND IN WRITING ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING:
  (A)  THE  ACTION OR PROCEEDING WAS COMMENCED, USED OR CONTINUED IN BAD
FAITH, SOLELY TO DELAY OR PROLONG THE RESOLUTION OF THE LITIGATION OR TO
HARASS OR MALICIOUSLY INJURE ANOTHER; OR
  (B) THE ACTION OR PROCEEDING WAS COMMENCED OR CONTINUED IN  BAD  FAITH
WITHOUT  ANY REASONABLE BASIS AND COULD NOT BE SUPPORTED BY A GOOD FAITH
ARGUMENT FOR AN EXTENSION, MODIFICATION OR REVERSAL OF EXISTING LAW.  IF
THE  ACTION  OR  PROCEEDING  WAS PROMPTLY DISCONTINUED WHEN THE PARTY OR
ATTORNEY LEARNED OR SHOULD HAVE LEARNED THAT THE  ACTION  OR  PROCEEDING
LACKED SUCH A REASONABLE BASIS, THE COURT MAY FIND THAT THE PARTY OR THE
ATTORNEY DID NOT ACT IN BAD FAITH.
  (4)  require  the  regulated  creditor  to  cease and desist from such
unlawful discriminatory practices;
  [(4)] (5) require the regulated creditor to take such further affirma-
tive action as will effectuate the purposes of this section,  including,
but  not  limited  to,  granting the credit which was the subject of the
complaint.
  S 3. Severability clause. If any clause, sentence, paragraph, subdivi-
sion, section or part of this act shall be adjudged by a court of compe-
tent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect,  impair
or invalidate the remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its opera-

S. 5874                             3

tion  to  the  clause, sentence, paragraph, subdivision, section or part
thereof directly involved in the  controversy  in  which  such  judgment
shall  have been rendered. It is hereby declared to be the intent of the
legislature  that  this act would have been enacted even if such invalid
provisions had not been included herein.
  S 4. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day  after  it  shall
have become a law, and shall apply to actions commenced on or after such
date.

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