DHR Timeline Collage

What We Do

Overview

The New York State Division of Human Rights is dedicated to eliminating discrimination, remedying injustice, and promoting equal opportunity, access, and dignity through enforcement of the Human Rights Law. 

We accomplish our mission by investigating, prosecuting, and adjudicating discrimination cases, educating the public about their rights and responsibilities, proposing policy and legislation; and building community. Each year, the Division of Human Rights handles thousands of active cases and reaches more than 5 million New Yorkers across the state with information on their rights and protections. Below is an overview of the units that make up the Division of Human Rights. 

Regional Affairs and Federal Programs
The primary responsibility of the Division’s Regional Offices is to process and investigate individual complaints of discrimination.  The Regional offices are located in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Hempstead, Hauppauge, Brooklyn (including the Office of Sexual Harassment Issues that also investigates cases from Queens), Upper Manhattan, White Plains and the Central Office in the Bronx. This unit also manages the Division’s contracts with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which provide funding for complaints that contain a federal basis.

Division-Initiated Investigations
Pursuant to the HRL Section 295.6 (b), the Division can, upon on its motion, file complaints alleging violations of the HRL and initiate investigations and studies. This unit is responsible for identifying potentially high-impact cases and cases involving systemic discrimination and designing investigative plans and strategies to implement the Division’s objectives in bringing its own complaints.

Prosecutions Unit
The Prosecutions Unit presents discrimination complaints on behalf of the State and Division at public administrative hearings. This office also negotiates and drafts settlements reached at pre-hearing conferences. In addition, the unit litigates housing discrimination complaints in court.

Hearing Unit
Administrative Law Judges conduct hearings on discrimination complaints referred after a probable cause determination, issue recommended orders after hearings, and submit orders after settlement, after a request to discontinue, and for various Administrative Convenience Dismissals (ACD) reasons.

General Counsel
The General Counsel provides direct legal assistance and advice to the Commissioner and other Division policy makers as to the interpretation of the Human Rights Law and other laws, including legal and procedural advice to the Administrative Law Judges and the Order Preparation Unit. The office provides legal advice to Division-Initiated Investigations and Complaints and researches and drafts legislation and regulations affecting the Law.

External Relations
The Office of External Relations is charged with managing the public face of the Division. Unit duties include developing community outreach and education programs about the Human Rights Law for the public, creating and updating agency publications and materials, and managing all social media efforts. The office coordinates all external activities with the Executive Chamber to maintain consistency with the administration's vision. The unit also manages the Division’s Language Access policy.

Director of Disability Rights
The Director of Disability Rights manages DHR’s enforcement of the State Human Rights Law’s prohibition against discrimination of persons based upon disability, both through individual complaints and Division-initiated investigations. The Director advises the Regional Offices and other staff on the protections for persons with disabilities.  This unit is responsible for ensuring that DHR’s offices and services are accessible to persons with disabilities. The Director develops and participates in outreach and education events and also advises the Commissioner on policy matters in the area of disability rights.

Hate and Bias Prevention Unit

Under Governor Kathy Hochul’s leadership, the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) launched the Hate and Bias Prevention Unit (HBPU) in December 2022 to help communities combat prejudice and discrimination. The HBPU is chaired by Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, and the Unit’s mission is focused around two key initiatives: a statewide network of Regional Councils and a Rapid Response Team.