The distinguished Napoli Shkolnik law firm, along with noted civil rights attorney Ben Crump, filed an action against New York City’s Arlo Hotel, accusing it of sponsoring a controversial racial profiling incident which centered on a 14-year-old boy.
Initially, a white woman accused the young man of stealing her smartphone.
When he denied responsibility, the woman became violent and tackled him to the ground.
During this incident, a hotel employee demanded that he turn over his own phone in order to prove he didn’t take hers. In other words, he was guilty until proven innocent.
Police officers soon broke up the melee, and the woman’s missing phone turned up later in the back of an Uber vehicle.
“This happens to marginalized people of color all the time. We are falsely accused of stuff then we have to prove our innocence. It is assumed that we are guilty, it is assumed that the burden of proof is on us,” Crump remarked.
The New York City Human Rights Law
Largely because of a landmark court opinion, New York City’s Human Rights Law is one of the broadest anti-discrimination laws in the country which features a private right of action.
This provision prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, including private hotels which are open to the public, based on:
- Sexual orientation, including gender identity,
- National origin,
- Marital status, and
Note that we said “ethnicity” as opposed to “race.” We all belong to the same race, the human race. But we have different ethnicities.
The lack of a de minimis exception and unlimited punitive damages are two of the strongest features of the NYCHRL.
Police brutality claims are subject to the de minimis rule. These victims are ineligible for compensation unless they sustained serious physical injuries.
So, officers could be verbally and otherwise non-physically abusive, which brings up the subject of police disciplinary records.
The Next Frontier: 50-a Police Discipline Records
In June 2020, New York lawmakers repealed an obscure state law provision which kept all police discipline records confidential.
Such records could provide critical evidence in the aforementioned police brutality claims. Without corroborating evidence of misconduct, these claims often degenerate into “he said, she said” affairs.
Police unions, primarily the Police Benevolent Association, fought the repeal at Albany and continued to fight it in court.
Ultimately, the public’s right to know prevailed, and a federal judge ordered New York City and other jurisdictions to make these records public.
Almost a year after the repeal, that still hasn’t happened. Officials have yet to release most of these records, since they did not technically include an admission or finding of guilt.
Supporting video and other evidence is also mostly unavailable.
Obviously, the fight for racial justice is not limited to courtrooms. That’s why we advocate for these victims at the statehouse and in other forums as well.
A legal aphorism says, “Where there’s a wrong, there’s a remedy.” We work to ensure that old saying is true in this context.
Roughly two dozen states still have police disciplinary record privacy laws which are similar to 50-a.
Our Equality Guarantee
Everyone on our professional team is acutely aware of two things. We advocate for victims, and everyone deserves respect.
We are on your side.
We are dedicated to full and fair compensation for all accident and injustice victims. But there are laws like 50-a and a lack of evidence hampers other cases. We don’t let these things stop us.
We support social justice causes by working tirelessly for victims. For a free consultation with an experienced New York personal injury attorney, contact us. We do not charge upfront legal fees.