New York has the proud distinction of being the first state in the nation to enact a Human Rights Law, which affords every citizen “an equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life.” This law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, credit, places of public accommodations, and non-sectarian educational institutions, based on age, race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, disability, military status, and other specified classes.
The New York State Division of Human Rights was created to enforce this important law. The mission of the agency is to ensure that " every individual . . . has an equal opportunity to participate fully in the economic, cultural and intellectual life of the State." It does so in many ways, including the following:
- Through the vigorous prosecution of unlawful discriminatory practices;
- Through the receipt, investigation, and resolution of complaints of discrimination;
- Through the creation of studies, programs, and campaigns designed to, among other things, inform and educate the public on the effects of discrimination and the rights and obligations under the law; and
- Through the development of human rights policies and proposed legislation for the State.