Under the Human Rights Law in New York, every citizen has an “equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life.” Please look at the below for information on filing a complaint. If you have a question, please feel free to contact us.
This law protects you from discrimination in areas such as employment, education, credit, and purchasing or renting a home or commercial space based on your:
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
- Military status
- Marital status
- Domestic violence victim status
- Immigration/Citizenship status
- Pregnancy-related condition
- Predisposing genetic characteristics
- Prior arrest or conviction record
- Gender Identity or Expression
- Familial status
- Lawful source of income (in housing only)
- Retaliation for opposing unlawful discriminatory practices
If someone feels they have been discriminated against they can file a complaint with the Division of Human Rights. Once a complaint is filed, the Division of Human Rights will investigate and may present the case in a public hearing.
What is Covered
The Human Rights law prohibits discrimination in:
- Apprenticeship and training
- Purchase and rental of housing and commercial space
- Places of public accommodation
- Educational institutions
- All credit transactions
Follow this step by step process to file a complaint with the Division of Human Rights.
- Fill out the complaint form, answering all of the questions and sign the form. If possible, type the form. If you are filling out the form by hand, please print.
- Attach copies of any documents that you think will help the Division investigate the case (pay stub, letter of termination, performance evaluation disciplinary notice, etc).
- Return the completed complaint form to the Division. You may return the complaint by postal mail to the regional office nearest you, email your complaint to [email protected], or fax it to (718) 741-8322.
- The Human Rights Law now provides that complaints can be either signed with a declaration under penalty of perjury, or signed under oath before a notary. By using the declaration option, you are no longer required to have the complaint notarized. Please note that all complaints must be signed before submission.
- Keep a copy of your complaint and copies of any documents you attach for your own records.
For more information read our Frequently Asked Questions.
Once a regional office receives your complaint the investigation by the Division of Human Rights will begin.
- The first step will be to notify the respondent(s). A respondent is a person or entity who you believe discriminated against you.
- Next, the Division will resolve any questionable issues of jurisdiction.
- If applicable, a copy of your complaint will be forwarded to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
- An investigation will be conducted using methods like written inquiry, field investigation and investigatory conference.
- In most cases the investigation will be completed within 180 days.
Once the investigation is complete, the Division will determine if there is probable cause that an act of discrimination has occurred, and will notify the complainant and respondent in writing.
If there is a finding of no probable cause, or lack of jurisdiction, the matter is dismissed. A complainant may appeal to the State Supreme Court within 60 days.
If it is determined that there is probable cause your case will be presented in a public hearing. Visit our public hearing section to learn more about that process.
If there is a Determination of no probable cause, lack of jurisdiction, or any other type of dismissal of the case, the Complainant may appeal to the State Supreme Court within 60 days.
If the Determination is one of probable cause, there is no appeal to court. The case then proceeds to public hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Under Rule 465.20 (9 N.Y.C.R.R. § 465.20), the Respondent may ask the Commissioner of Human Rights within 60 days of the finding of probable cause to review the finding of probable cause. Such application should be sent to the General Counsel of the Division and to the Complainant, and Complainant’s attorney, if any.
Please take further notice that in the alternative to the right to appeal noticed above, in cases alleging housing discrimination only, a person whose complaint has been dismissed by the New York State Division of Human Rights after investigation for lack of jurisdiction or lack of probable cause may file the same cause of action in a court of appropriate jurisdiction pursuant to this section, unless appeal to the New York State Supreme Court as stated above has been sought.
File A Complaint
The Division of Human Rights complaint form is available at the below link. You may use this form to file and submit your complaint online. If you would prefer to print out a complaint form and mail it to us, we have made PDF forms by area jurisdiction available below as well.
Use this complaint form if you are an employee filing a complaint against your employer, or a domestic worker, or if you are an intern or a volunteer filing against an employer. This form can also be used by non-employees who experience discrimination while working at an employer’s worksite. This includes independent contractors, persons working for a contractor, temp workers, vendors, consultants, delivery persons, and service providers such as electricians, janitorial workers, and so on. Use this form also to complain about the denial of a license by a licensing agency. Use this form to complain of discrimination by a union or by an employment or temporary agency. (If you are filing against an employer and a union or agency, please file a separate complaint against each.)
Use this form to file a complaint if you experienced housing discrimination. You can file against a landlord, management company, property seller, or anyone having the right to sell, lease or rent housing, or against anyone working for one of these entities who personally discriminated against you. This form is also for filing against a real estate professional. This form is also for complaints about discriminatory denial of housing-related credit (such as mortgages). This form can also be used for a complaint of discrimination with regard to land or commercial space.
Use this form to file a complaint if you experienced discrimination as a customer or client of any establishment offering goods or services to the public (for example: stores, theatres, restaurants, transportation services, public buildings, salons, medical offices, day care services, parks, fitness and recreation facilities, etc., including any such facilities owned or operated by a governmental entity). Use this form also to complain of discriminatory denial of credit (but use the housing complaint for denial of a mortgage or any housing-related credit) or insurance (but use the employment complaint for issues about insurance benefits provided by your employer).
Use this form to file a complaint as a current or former student, or as an applicant, against any public school (including public school districts, charter school, BOCES, public colleges and universities, universal Pre-K, Head Start or other publicly funded pre-kindergarten program), or any private school at any education level, excluding those which are for-profit, or run by a religious organization. (If you are not sure of the for-profit or religious nature of a school, you may file a complaint and we will investigate the status of the school as a preliminary matter.)
Use the Employment complaint to file a complaint against a school as your employer.
Use the Public Accommodation form to file a complaint against a daycare center.
Boycott or Blacklisting
Use this form to complain about a business or organization that refuses to buy from, sell to, or trade with, or otherwise refuses to do business with any person, business or organization for a discriminatory reason. If you are unsure whether to use this form or another form that also seems to apply, you can call the Division for further information on which form would be best. Generally, the boycott or blacklisting category is for discriminatory business dealings that do not fall under any of the other types of complaints listed above.
Use this form if you are filing a complaint as a volunteer firefighter.
Violation of a conciliation agreement
If you previously filed a complaint with the Division which was settled with a Pre-Determination Conciliation Agreement, use this form to file a complaint if the entity you filed against has not complied with the agreement.
If you are unable to access the complaint form, please call at 1-888-392-3644.
If you are blind or a person with a vision disability, you can contact John Herrion at 718-741-8332 or [email protected] to receive the form in an alternative format, including Braille in English or Spanish.
The New York State Division of Human Rights is empowered by the law to, upon its own motion, initiate investigations and file complaints alleging violations of the state anti-discrimination law. You can contact the Division Initiated Action Unit at [email protected].