Acting Commissioner | Deputy Commissioner, Enforcement | Deputy Commissioner, Regional Affairs & Federal Programs | General Counsel


General Counsel

Caroline Downey is an experienced attorney and long-term employee of the New York State Division of Human Rights.

As of January 2007, Ms. Downey became General Counsel for the Division of Human Rights.  As General Counsel, she advises the Commissioner on all legal matters affecting the Division.  She supervises the Legal Bureau, including the Legislation and Legal Opinions Unit, the Litigation and Appeals Unit, and the Legal Records Management Unit.  She also serves as the Division's Ethics Officer.

Ms. Downey joined the Division as a Legal Bureau Senior Attorney in 1981, after four years as Litigation Associate with the New York City law firm of Hawkins, Delafield and Wood. She first served in the Appeals and Litigation Unit at the Division, where she litigated many discrimination cases in the Appellate Divisions and the Court of Appeals, including Binghamton Federal Credit Union v. SDHR, which established that the denial of credit disability insurance to pregnant women constituted sex discrimination in the offering of credit under the Human Rights Law, and SDHR v. Onondaga Sheriff's Department, where the Court of Appeals, in a race and sex discrimination case, recognized that an employer's shifting explanations for its employment actions may give rise to an inference that later explanations are pretextual.  In 1992, Ms. Downey was promoted to the position of Director of Legislation and Legal Opinions for the Division, where her responsibilities included overseeing the Division's legislative and regulatory programs.  Ms. Downey was promoted to Supervising Attorney for the Division in June, 2005, the position she held until her promotion to General Counsel.

Ms. Downey lectures frequently in all areas involving interpretation of the Human Rights Law.

Ms. Downey is a graduate of Lake Erie College for Women and the Antioch School of Law.