Discontinuance of Private Settlements
For complaints filed on or after October 12, 2021, the Division will no longer issue Commissioner’s Orders discontinuing complaints after private settlements.
This change is being made in the public interest for increased transparency and good governance regarding settlements. Oftentimes, when a complainant retains private counsel and the matter settles, the parties enter into private settlements - meaning the terms of the settlement are not disclosed in a written agreement available to either the Division or the public. Nearly half of all post-probable cause settlements are private settlements without any public record of the terms of the settlement. The Division has a vested interest in the ultimate resolution of all cases -- even cases with private counsel -- to ensure that the terms of any settlement comply with our basic standards and do not violate public policy. The Division’s interest in each case is apparent in the fact that all cases – regardless of whether there is private counsel or a Division-assigned attorney – are brought in the name of the Division.
After a probable cause determination, a complainant’s attorney will be required to state in writing why they are seeking a discontinuance and, if the reason is private settlement, the discontinuance will not be granted. Parties will be encouraged to either settle the matter through an Order after stipulation that indicates the terms of the settlement or to proceed through the agency’s public hearing process. This requirement has always applied to matters where the complainant is assisted by a Division attorney, and now it applies in all instances.
These changes will ensure that New Yorkers have greater insight into the results of our complaints and that the Division can monitor all settlements to ensure they are consistent with the intent of the Human Rights Law.