Comprehensive 1991 Amendments
Local Law 39 of 1991 was a comprehensive set of amendments to the New York City Human Rights Law.
These amendments were intended to maximize both individual and vicarious responsibility for discriminatory conduct, and substantially expanded the reach of the law, the tools for enforcing it, and the penalties for violating it.
Unfortunately, despite the command in the legislative history to interpret the law independently from state and federal civil rights enactments, judges continued to treat the City Human Rights Law as nothing more than a carbon copy of its state and federal counterparts.
As stated in the Committee Report accompanying the Restoration Act, that 2005 measure “aim[ed] to ensure construction of the City’s human rights law in line with the purposes of fundamental amendments to the law enacted in 1991.” As such, it is essential to understand the sea change that the comprehensive 1991 amendments were intended to produce.