NYS Division of Human Rights Celebrates 75th Anniversary of the New York State Human Rights Law

NYS Division of Human Rights Celebrates 75th Anniversary of the New York State Human Rights Law

December 10, 2020

The New York State Division of Human Rights announced that it will celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the New York State Human Rights Law, and International Human Rights Day, by presenting an exciting virtual conference series bringing together civil rights leaders from across the country to talk about the Division’s rich history and its role as a beacon of equality and justice for the nation.

"In 1945, New York led the nation by becoming the first state in the country to pass a state-level anti-discrimination law,” said Division of Human Rights Interim Commissioner Johnathan J. Smith. “As we celebrate this legacy of accomplishment, we remain dedicated to continuing the fight against discrimination, bias and injustice."

Seventy-five years ago, in 1945, Governor Thomas E. Dewey signed what was known as the Ives-Quinn Act after sponsors Assemblyman Irving M. Ives and Senator Elmer F. Quinn. This legislation was the first statewide law in the nation to prohibit discrimination in employment based on race, color, creed, and national origin; it also created a state agency to enforce this law. Over the course of the succeeding decades, the Human Rights Law’s reach has expanded to include housing, public accommodations, credit, and other jurisdictions, based on age, race, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, disability, military status, and other protected classes.

During his tenure, Governor Andrew Cuomo has continued this long history of civil rights leadership by signing 18 amendments to the Human Rights Law, with landmark advancements in the law that include protections for pregnant workers, victims of sexual harassment, victims of domestic violence, and unpaid interns. Last year alone, Governor Cuomo signed into law amendments to the Human Rights Law that went even further by prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression, source of income in housing, and hairstyles historically associated with race. The law was also expanded to cover public educational institutions and to cover all employers in the state, regardless of size.

In honor of the 75th Anniversary, the New York State Division of Human Rights is hosting a virtual conference series that brings together civil rights leaders from across the country to talk about the Division’s rich history, and its role as a beacon of equality and justice for the nation.

This week the Division held a virtual discussion focused on the agency’s history and explored how the Human Rights Law has been lighting the way for the causes of justice and equality throughout the nation. On Tuesday, December 15, 2020, the Division of Human Rights will host its second virtual event in the series which will focus on civil rights during the COVID-19 pandemic including the unjust targeting of Asian Americans, systemic health care disparities in Black and Brown communities, and the challenges, particularly in workplaces, for people with disabilities.

In addition, the Division has launched a webpageto highlight this historic occasion with on-demand content added throughout the month, a social media campaign highlighting milestones in protections for New Yorkers, and a virtual tool that will help New Yorkers navigate the robust protections provided by one of the most expansive anti-discrimination laws in the country.

To register for the upcoming event, view the recording of the previous event, and learn more about the Division’s 75th Anniversary, please visit us at https://dhr.ny.gov/75.