New York State Division of Human Rights Office of Counsel Subject and Correspondence Files

Held by the New York State Archives

Overview of the Records


New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

This series consists of correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, reports, manuals, bulletins, training materials, complainant information sheets, staffing records, and other records which document the division's general policies, positions, strategies, and interaction with other agencies. Many records document a class action suit in which the division was ordered to clear a fourteen-year backlog of discrimination cases.
51 cubic feet
Inclusive Dates:
1985-1999, 2003-2005
Series Number:


19281-06: Unarranged.

19281-09, 19281-10, 19281-11, 19281-12: Chronological.

Scope and Content Note

This series consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence, internal memorandums, minutes of internal meetings, reports, manuals, bulletins, training materials, complainant information sheets, staffing related records, and other miscellaneous documents. Collectively, these records document the agency's general policies and positions on a wide variety of legal and operational issues; strategies regarding legal actions and issues; communications with federal and state agencies, including the Governor's office and the state legislature; and other issues that involve and affect both the Office of Counsel and the agency as a whole.

A large portion of this series documents the Division of Human Rights' involvement in a class action suit in which the division was finally ordered to take several measures to clear a massive case backlog that caused discrimination claims to be delayed as long as fourteen years. NOW-New York State and Westchester NOW were plaintiffs in the class action suit, New York State NOW v. Cuomo, later amended to NOW v. Pataki, in which Southern District Judge Robert L. Carter ruled in 1994 that the delays had the effect of violating the constitutional rights of thousands who filed complaints alleging discrimination in employment and housing.

Judge Carter ordered the state to hire staff capable of processing claims within 24-36 months and to spend more money for a special backlog case unit to resolve the backlog cases. Allegedly, many complaints were summarily dismissed with no investigation by the division in efforts to reduce its caseload. Judge Carter subsequently issued a permanent injunction to prohibit intake rules that allowed for summary dismissal of cases.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

Records pertaining to discrimination cases are restricted in part. Disclosable documents include the initial complaint and the final determination. Other documents will be disclosed as permitted by the New York State Freedom of Information Law (Public Officers Law Art. 6).

Related Information

Other finding aids

Container lists are available at the repository.

Acquistion Information

Accretions dating from 2009 and later were transferred to the New York State Archives under records disposition number 22079.

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