Frequently Asked Questions for Respondents
The New York State Human Rights Law and the Division’s Rules of Practice outline the policies and procedures that govern hearings administered by the New York State Division of Human Rights. The Law and the Rules are available on the Division’s website at www.dhr.ny.gov/law. Parties may consult with their own attorneys on questions about and interpretations of the Law and/or the Rules. The following are general responses to frequently asked questions. The responses are not legal advice, and should be used for informational purposes only.
Before the Public Hearing
I recently received a “Determination After Investigation” letter from the Division, stating that there is probable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred in my case and that the case will be scheduled for a public hearing. What does this mean and when will the case be scheduled for a hearing?
Where the Division finds probable cause after investigation, the Human Rights Law requires that the entire case be heard at a public hearing before an administrative law judge, where all relevant evidence is presented and the testimony of witnesses is taken under oath and subject to cross-examination. You will receive written notice from the Division of the hearing date, time, and location of the hearing. The hearing usually is scheduled to occur 4 to 6 weeks from the date of the written notice. Prior to receiving this notice, you may receive notice of a Pre-Hearing Settlement Conference, where your case will come before an Administrative Law Judge for the purpose of exploring settlement.
Do we pick the dates for the hearing?
No. The Division selects dates for a public hearing, and notifies the parties in writing through the notice of hearing.
What do I bring to the hearing, such as documents, witnesses, etc.?
The parties should identify and bring all documents and witnesses relevant to their claims and/or defenses. The parties should review the notice of hearing, which is issued via mail.
Now that the case is scheduled for a hearing, what happens next?
The case proceeds to a public hearing on the scheduled date. The Complainant may consult with his or her own attorney. If Complainant does not have an attorney, please wait to be contacted by a Division attorney, who will present the case in support of the complaint. Further, the parties should review the notice of hearing, which is issued via mail.
When should an answer be filed and can it be faxed?
An answer should be served by the respondent(s) on all parties and the Administrative Law Judge at least two (2) business days before the public hearing. This is a statutory requirement. All formal papers, including but not limited to the answer, must be submitted via personal service, mail, or fax (with an original to follow) for proper docketing and timely filing. Formal papers submitted via electronic mail are deemed courtesy copies and do not constitute proper service.
What should I do if I have a conflict with the hearing date that is scheduled?
You should submit, as early as possible, a written request for an adjournment of the hearing, stating the basis for your request, to all parties and the Administrative Law Judge.
On what basis will the judge grant an adjournment? Will I receive a letter with new dates?
Adjournment of a public hearing is granted only for actual engagement before a higher tribunal on the specific dates of the public hearing, or for other good cause shown as determined by the Division. If a case is adjourned, the Division will schedule a new hearing date.
What happens if I do not appear for the hearing?
A complainant’s failure to appear at a public hearing may result in a dismissal of a complaint, and a respondent’s failure to appear may result in a default finding against a respondent.
How long is the hearing?
Public hearings are generally scheduled for two (2) days.
Can I speak with the Judge?
Ex parte communication (i.e., by only one party) with the judge assigned to the case is strictly prohibited. The parties may jointly request a conference with a judge through the Office of Administrative Law Judges.
I have more questions. Where can I call for more information?
If necessary, call (718) 741-8400. We do request that you call only if the situation is urgent. Please do not call to ask the status of your case; the Division will contact you at the appropriate time. Frequent telephone contact can interfere with the prompt processing of your hearing. Please do not call your regional office; they will not have information on the hearing process.