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New N.Y. State Law, Strengthening Human Rights, in Effect Today

The New York State Commission on Human Rights will be empowered for the first time, under a new law which becomes effective tomorrow, to order collection of damages from an individual found guilty of racial or religious discrimination. The measure is the first major revision in the New York State Law Against Discrimination in 20 years. It covers discrimination in education, Jobs, housing and public accommodations.

The American Jewish Congress, which helped draft the bipartisan measure, said today the law would “significantly strengthen” the Commission in dealing with such bias would open “a brand new phase in New York’s war on bigotry and bias.”

Another revision provides for a temporary court order banning sale or rental of housing in which a discriminatory act had been charged. This was made part of the law because it was found that houses or apartments involved in such cases were no longer available for sale or rental by the time the Commission could rule on the complaint of bias. The law also provides compensation for landlords or homeowners against loss which might be suffered when a restraining order is issued but no discrimination is found.

The State Law Against Discrimination was adopted in 1945, the first such state law in the nation. It defined the opportunity to obtain Jobs without discrimination as a civil right. The revisions make it a civil right to be free of discrimination in education, public accommodation places, housing and commercial space.

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