(Hauppauge, New York-July 29, 2014) –Today, human rights organizations and leaders from throughout Suffolk County offered their unanimous support of proposed legislation to ensure and enforce protection of human rights for all Suffolk County residents.
The proposed amendments will provide consistency between Suffolk County local law and New York State Human Rights Law and will include a process for administrative hearings on all founded complaints of discrimination.
“As we continue to ensure Suffolk County is a welcoming and inclusive area for all, we must ensure that all residents’ human rights are protected,” said County Executive Bellone. “The proposed amendments to Suffolk County’s Human Rights Laws will put the County on parity with adopted New York State Human Rights Laws and ensure protection for all citizens.”
Highlights of the proposed amendments:
· Military Status-protected category in all sections of the law (housing, employment, public accommodations and credit),
· Prohibits discrimination against people of disabilities based on their use of a guide dog, hearing dog or service dog.
· Adds protected status for: victims of domestic violence in employment, and familial status in employment,
· Employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnancy related conditions,
· Prohibits fire departments and companies from discriminatory practices based on a limited number of protected categories,
· Adds coverage for Domestic Workers.
· Adds lawful source of income as a protected category,
· Addresses post-acquisition harassment,
· RRequires reasonable accommodations be made for people with disabilities.
· Prohibits discrimination based on group identity.
Jurisdiction and Procedures-Complaint and Hearing Procedures:
· Provides mechanism for imposing and collecting fines and penalties,
· Simplifies the structure of the civil fines and penalties which can be imposed in all cases where probable cause is found,
· Revision and addition of definitions included in Local Law.
Statements of Support:
V. Elaine Gross, President, ERASE Racism, said: “ERASE Racism applauds County Executive Steve Bellone for his leadership to amend the Suffolk County Human Rights Law. The proposed legislation takes a noteworthy step in the right direction as Suffolk County prioritizes the recognition of civil rights on Long Island.”
Miriam Elaraby, member of Make the Road New York, said, “My daughter and three of my sons-in-law are veterans, and my grandson is about to enlist. I support amending the Suffolk County Human Rights Law to be fair for everyone, whether they are soldiers, pregnant women, victims of domestic violence, or anybody. It’s the right thing to do—nobody should be discriminated against, ever.”
Nelsena Day, member of New York Communities for Change, said: "This change to the law is long overdue. It's time for the Suffolk County legislature to do the right thing and expand the human rights law to protect all residents, whether they be veterans, pregnant women, or low-income people. It would be a huge step forward for our communities."
Michelle Santantonio, Executive Director of Long Island Housing Services, comments: Limiting choices and opportunities for housing, employment, education, use of public accommodations and allowing any less than equal treatment for any group puts us all in danger of losing our rights to live free from discrimination and tyranny. The proposed amended Suffolk County Human Rights Law is an opportunity to bolster hard-won freedoms and protections, and raises prospects of achieving a healthier, safer society that is racially, culturally, economically inclusive and accessible.”
Martha Maffei, Executive Director at Services for the Advancement of Women stated: We applaud the efforts of Suffolk County in providing protections to victims of domestic violence who are susceptible to discrimination in areas such as employment due to their status as victims. Affording such protections will allow victims/survivors the opportunity to move forward in their lives by dealing with the circumstances that are extremely overwhelming and unique to this vulnerable population. In addition, it will provide a path to the financial independence so many seek when leaving an abusive relationship, stated, a Latina Immigrant rights organization.