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This entry was published on 2022-07-15
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General powers and duties of division
Executive (EXC) CHAPTER 18, ARTICLE 15
§ 295. General powers and duties of division. The division, by and
through the commissioner or his or her duly authorized officer or
employee, shall have the following functions, powers and duties:

1. To establish and maintain its principal office, and such other
offices within the state as it may deem necessary.

2. To function at any place within the state.

3. To appoint such officers, attorneys, clerks and other employees and
agents, consultants and special committees as it may deem necessary, fix
their compensation within the limitations provided by law, and prescribe
their duties.

4. To obtain upon request and utilize the services of all governmental
departments and agencies.

5. To adopt, promulgate, amend and rescind suitable rules and
regulations to carry out the provisions of this article, and the
policies and practices of the division in connection therewith.

6. (a) To receive, investigate and pass upon complaints alleging
violations of this article.

(b) Upon its own motion, to test and investigate and to make, sign and
file complaints alleging violations of this article and to initiate
investigations and studies to carry out the purposes of this article.

7. To hold hearings, to provide where appropriate for
cross-interrogatories, subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance,
administer oaths, take the testimony of any person under oath, and in
connection therewith, to require the production for examination of any
books or papers relating to any matter under investigation or in
question before the division. The division may make rules as to the
issuance of subpoenas which may be issued by the division at any stage
of any investigation or proceeding before it.

In any such investigation or hearing, the commissioner, or an officer
duly designated by the commissioner to conduct such investigation or
hearing, may confer immunity in accordance with the provisions of
section 50.20 of the criminal procedure law.

8. To create such advisory councils, local, regional or state-wide, as
in its judgment will aid in effectuating the purposes of this article
and of section eleven of article one of the constitution of this state,
and the division may empower them to study the problems of
discrimination in all or specific fields of human relationships or in
specific instances of discrimination because of age, race, creed, color,
national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression,
military status, sex, disability or marital status and make
recommendations to the division for the development of policies and
procedures in general and in specific instances. The advisory councils
also shall disseminate information about the division's activities to
organizations and individuals in their localities. Such advisory
councils shall be composed of representative citizens, serving without
pay, but with reimbursement for actual and necessary traveling expenses;
and the division may make provision for technical and clerical
assistance to such councils and for the expenses of such assistance.

9. To develop human rights plans and policies for the state and assist
in their execution and to make investigations and studies appropriate to
effectuate this article and to issue such publications and such results
of investigations and research as in its judgement will tend to inform
persons of the rights assured and remedies provided under this article,
to promote good-will and minimize or eliminate discrimination because of
age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender
identity or expression, military status, sex, disability or marital

10. To render each year to the governor and to the legislature a full
written report of all its activities and of its recommendations.

11. To inquire into incidents of and conditions which may lead to
tension and conflict among racial, religious and nationality groups and
to take such action within the authority granted by law to the division,
as may be designed to alleviate such conditions, tension and conflict.

12. To furnish any person with such technical assistance as the
division deems appropriate to further compliance with the purposes or
provisions of this article.

13. To promote the creation of human rights agencies by counties,
cities, villages or towns in circumstances the division deems

14. To accept, with the approval of the governor, as agent of the
state, any grant, including federal grants, or any gift for any of the
purposes of this article. Any moneys so received may be expended by the
division to effectuate any purpose of this article, subject to the same
limitations as to approval of expenditures and audit as are prescribed
for state moneys appropriated for the purposes of this article.

15. To adopt an official seal.

16. To have concurrent jurisdiction with the New York city commission
on human rights over the administration and enforcement of title C of
chapter one of the administrative code of the city of New York.

17. To establish a dedicated telephone line to provide assistance to
individuals with complaints of housing discrimination. Such assistance
shall include, but not be limited to, directing individuals to resources
available to the public regarding housing discrimination. The division
shall operate such dedicated telephone line during regular business
hours and shall post the telephone number for such dedicated phone line
on the website of the division. The commissioner is hereby authorized
and directed to promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate the
purposes of this subdivision.

18. To establish a toll free confidential hotline to provide
individuals with complaints of workplace sexual harassment counsel and
assistance. The division shall operate this hotline during regular
business hours and disseminate information about this hotline in order
to ensure public knowledge of the hotline, including by working with the
department of labor to ensure that information on the hotline is
included in any materials employers must post or provide to employees
regarding sexual harassment. The division will work with organizations
representing attorneys, including but not limited to the New York state
bar association, to recruit attorneys experienced in providing counsel
related to sexual harassment matters who can provide pro bono assistance
and counsel to individuals that contact the hotline. The hotline shall
comply with all of the requirements for a program operated under the New
York Rules of Professional Conduct, 12 NYCRR, Rule 6.5 (Participation in
limited pro bono legal service programs). Attorneys may not solicit, or
permit employees or agents of the attorneys to solicit on the attorney's
behalf, further representation of any individuals they advise through
the hotline relating to discussed sexual harassment complaint.