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Monday, March 14, 2016

A public educational institution is not an “education corporation” within the meaning of New York State’s Human Rights Law


A public educational institution is not an “education corporation” within the meaning of New York State’s Human Rights Law
Garcia v City Univ. of N.Y., 2016 NY Slip Op 01271, Appellate Division, First Department

Supreme Court dismissed Minerva Garcia's disability discrimination claims brought against the City University of New York pursuant to New York’s Executive Law §296(4), the State’s Human Rights Law (HRL).

The Appellate Division, citing North Syracuse Central School District v New York State Division of Human Rights, 19 NY3d 481, sustained the lower court’s ruling explaining that the City University of New York is a public educational institutions* and not "education corporation[s] or association[s]" within the meaning of Executive Law §296(4).

In North Syracuse Central School District the Court of Appeals said that the issue before it was whether a public school district is an "education corporation or association" as contemplated by Executive Law §296(4).”  The court concluded that it was not and, therefore, the New York State Division of Human Rights (SDHR) “lacks jurisdiction to investigate complaints against public school districts under that provision.”

Although SDHR asked the court to “liberally construe the ‘general purpose’ of the Human Rights Law, which is to ‘eliminate and prevent discrimination . . . in educational institutions’ [citing Executive Law §290(3)], and conclude that a public school district is an ‘education corporation or association,’” the court declined, stating that the Division’s argument overlooked a basic premise: “there must first be an underlying directive in the statute before this Court can apply such a construction”  and that  “it is evident from the legislative history that the term ‘education corporation or association,’ the origins of which can be traced to the Tax Law, refers to only private, non-sectarian entities that are exempt from taxation under [Real Property Tax Law] Article 4.”

The Appellate Division then noted:

1. Even if Ms. Garcia's were able to assert her claims under the HRL her complaint would have been dismissed as she did not make out a prima facie case of unlawful disability discrimination having failed to present any medical evidence showing that she suffered from bipolar disorder, depression, or any other cognizable disability; and

2. Ms/ Garcia's proposed disability discrimination claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were similarly without merit as ADA claims "are governed by the same legal standards" as disability discrimination claims under the HRL.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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