The New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) recently issued a press release entitled “Discontinuance of Private Settlements” that will greatly impact how both parties in a discrimination case determine settlements for “complaints filed on or after October 12, 2021.”

The DHR explains in its press release that it “will no longer issue Commissioner’s Orders discontinuing complaints after private settlements” essentially to increase transparency to the public.  See, Discontinuance of Private Settlements | New York State Division of Human Rights (ny.gov).

Division of Human Rights Settlements Before October 12, 2021

Prior to October 12, 2021, when the complainant and respondent agreed to a settlement, the terms of the settlement were not made public (i.e., the settlement amount and any other agreements between the parties), unless the complainant is assisted by a DHR attorney. This rule now applies to everyone.

New Changes to Division of Human Rights Settlement Process 

Moving forward, the DHR is directing the complainant’s attorney to “state in writing why they are seeking a discontinuance and, if the reason is private settlement, the discontinuance will not be granted. Parties will be encouraged to either settle the matter through an Order after stipulation that indicates the terms of the settlement or to proceed through the agency’s public hearing process.”

A public record of the settlement terms is now required through an Order After Stipulation.

settlement

This new rule could be very problematic for businesses who want to hide allegations of discrimination from the public, especially businesses that are typically in the public eye and monitored by the media.

Now, more than ever, there is an incentive for businesses to settle legitimate cases before the complainant files a complaint with the DHR.

On the other hand, once the complaint is filed, there is now less incentive for the business to settle since confidentiality is no longer an option. Thus, there is likely to be an increase in public hearings at the DHR and less pre-hearing settlements between parties.

To summarize, it is important for both parties to try to resolve conflict before litigation ensues. Hiring an attorney with experience in the employment discrimination field at the early stage is beneficial to resolve the complaint efficiently and effectively before it is filed with the DHR.

This article is intended for general information and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or counsel. No attorney-client relationship is created by the distribution of this article. The substance of this article is not intended to cover all legal issues or developments regarding the matter. Please consult with an attorney to ascertain how these new developments may relate to you or your business. © 2021 Law Office of Regina Sarkis, PLLC.