Changes in Private Settlements for Employment Discrimination in New York

How does the change affect employers?

Changes in private settlements for employment discrimination recently took another turn in New York State. The New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR) announced it will no longer discontinue complaints after private settlement. In the past, if private attorneys reached a settlement, they did not have to disclose the settlement terms to the public or to the NYSDHR. The Commissioner would issue a discontinuance of the complaint.

By comparison, under the new change, if a Division attorney represented the complainant, the NSYDHR would review the settlement. However, previously, they did not require review when a private attorney assisted the complainant.

A press release issued by the NYSDHR describes the recent change and underlying reasons.

Reasons for Changes in Private Settlements for Employment Discrimination

The reasons that the NYSDHR gave for eliminating the discontinuance was to provide “increased transparency and good governance regarding settlements.” They explained that the Division had a vested interest in how all cases resolved. It was their responsibility to make sure that terms complied with their basic standards. In addition, they needed to ensure the settlement did not violate public policy.

When seeking a discontinuance of a complaint, attorneys must submit the reason. If the reason given is due to private settlement, the NYSDHR will not grant the discontinuance. Parties must either settle through a commissioner’s order or proceed with the complaint through the public hearing process.

New York State Human Rights Law

In 2019, the New York legislature passed several amendments to the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL). One amendment prohibited employers from requiring non-disclosure agreements as part of a settlement. The exception was if the complainant or plaintiff preferred confidentiality.

Do You Have Concerns About Employee Discrimination in the Workplace?

If you have questions about settling discrimination claims, arrange a consultation with an experienced employment defense lawyer. Call Stephen D. Hans & Associates, P.C. at (718) 275-6500.

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