New York State Civil Rights Law – Constitutional & Civil Rights

The New York State Civil Rights Law comprises a number of state statutes that protect individuals in various situations.  The current laws can be found here (NY Senate website).  These laws include the following:

Article 2 sets forth the state bill of rights, which contains provisions similar (or identical) to the Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution, along with certain other protections (e.g., the right to serve on juries).

Article 2-A prohibits discrimination in publicly-assisted housing based on race, color, religion, national origin or ancestry.  The law provides a private right of action to sue in court for equitable relief and money damages.

Article 3 sets forth various situations in which a person cannot be arrested or imprisoned, e.g., when appearing to testify as a witness pursuant to a subpoena.

Article 4-B establishes that people who rely on guide dogs, hearing dogs, and service dogs (as defined by federal ADA regulations) cannot be discriminated against in the use of public facilities and in employment because of their service dogs.

Article 4-C protects the equal employment rights of persons with unique genetic disorders.

Article 5 sets forth the state privacy laws, including prohibitions on the unauthorized commercial use of a person’s name or picture (Section 50), prohibitions on disclosing the identities of sex offense victims (Section 50-B), prohibitions on videotaping another person’s residential property and recreational activities (Section 52-A), and prohibitions on disseminating photos or videos of another person engaged in intimate or sexual activity (Section 52-B).  These laws contain private rights of action to sue for violations.

Article 7 sets forth miscellaneous rights, including the right to breast feed (Section 79-E), certain rights of professional journalists (Section 79-H), the right to sue perpetrators of “bias-related violence or intimidation” (Section 79-N), and various rules relating to defamation claims (Sections 74-78).

Because the legal rules governing civil rights claims are complicated, an individual who believes his or her civil rights have been violated should contact a qualified civil rights lawyer immediately.