Malalis on Ensuring Human Rights in NYC

Chair and commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights Carmelyn P. Malalis at a Q&A on Nov. 12 organized by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, with Errol Louis, host of Inside City Hall on NY1 and director of Urban Reporting at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and Lotus Chau, Chief reporter of Sing Tao Daily (Photo by Karen Pennar for Voices of NY)

Chair and commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights Carmelyn P. Malalis at a Q&A on Nov. 12 organized by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, with Errol Louis, host of Inside City Hall on NY1 and director of Urban Reporting at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and Lotus Chau, chief reporter of Sing Tao Daily (Photo by Karen Pennar for Voices of NY)

Carmelyn P. Malalis, chair and commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, addressed the members of the community and ethnic media at a Q&A “Newsmakers” event organized by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism on Nov. 12.

Errol Louis, host of Inside City Hall on NY1 and director of Urban Reporting at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, was joined by Lotus Chau (Sing Tao Daily) and Javier Castaño (Queens Latino) on a panel that interviewed the commissioner, and questions were also taken from the audience.

In her remarks, Malalis cited the city’s recent and far-reaching efforts to protect individuals from discrimination in hiring based either on credit history or criminal records, and she stressed that the agency plans to work with businesses, including small businesses, to inform them about the details of the new laws and how they can be compliant with them. That will better ensure, she said after the briefing in response to a question, that the agency receives fewer complaints over time. She noted that since the start of the year, the agency has received 40 percent more complaints than a year earlier.

Sing Tao Daily, whose chief reporter Lotus Chau was on the panel questioning Malalis, reported on the event with a particular focus on questions about Chinese in New York City.

Here’s an excerpt of what Sing Tao Daily’s April Xu wrote (and translated for Voices of NY):

In the Q&A session, the chief reporter of Sing Tao Daily, Lotus Chau, said that a Chinese reader who worked at a New York branch of a big international investment bank complained that the company asked new Chinese employees to fill out a background-check survey out of business confidentiality concerns before they were hired. The reader said that the bank has about 500 Chinese employees and the survey just targets the Chinese, which made him feel uncomfortable and discriminated against.

Malalis responded that if the company is asking certain people for information such as their national origin or race that they are not asking of other people, that process or questioning will be generally considered to be illegal discrimination, because the company cannot impose certain restrictions against one type of group because of their national origin, race or citizenship status. Malalis also said that the NYC Commission on Human Rights is willing to help and support those victims of discrimination.

In addition, Chau mentioned that certain Chinese institutions take advantage of Chinese graduates [of U.S. schools] who are eager to find a job or apply for work visas and use the graduates as cheap labor or even free labor. For instance, some companies do not give people a penny during their probation, and some companies require employees to sign long-term contracts, stipulating that if the employees resigned before the end of the contract, they shall pay $6,000 to $10,000 as penalty. Malalis said that it depends on the nature of different cases whether or not they can be brought before the Human Rights Commission. If the employer treats employees differently based on their race, national origin or citizenship status, then people can filed complaints to the commission. If the cases pertain to wage theft and non-payment of overtime work, it’s more within the scope of the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor.

2 Comments

  1. Gregg Morris says:

    A really significant story. Commissioner Malais said in an interview after the panel discussion that although NYC has not Healthy Workplace Laws to make workplace & academic bullying illegal, NYC antir-discrimination laws making workplace and academic bullying illegal, NYC discrimination law regarding Hostile Workplaces can is broader (i.e. better for complaintiffs) than state and federal laws regarding Hostile Workplaces for protected classes.

    An article published in OSM!, a Filipino newspaper, directly addressed this hostile workplace issue: http://justcliqit.com/malalis-on-bullying-in-the-city/

  2. Gregg Morris says:

    This reply is free of typos: A really significant story. Commissioner Malais said in an interview after the panel discussion that although NYC has no Healthy Workplace Laws to make workplace & academic bullying illegal, NYC anti-discrimination law making workplace and academic bullying illegal, NYC discrimination law regarding Hostile Workplaces can is broader (i.e. better for complaintiffs) than state and federal laws regarding Hostile Workplaces for protected classes.

    An article published in OSM!, a Filipino newspaper, directly addressed this hostile workplace issue: http://justcliqit.com/malalis-on-bullying-in-the-city/

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