The Third Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined petitioner’s employment discrimination claim should not have been dismissed without a hearing by the State Division of Human Rights (SDHR):
SDHR is free to dismiss a complaint without conducting a formal hearing where it finds no probable cause to conclude that an employer engaged in discriminatory practices, and we will only disturb that determination “if it is arbitrary, capricious or lacks a rational basis” … . Those flaws are present in a determination that stems from “an inadequate or abbreviated investigation” by SDHR … , such as one in which the agency does not afford the complainant “a full and fair opportunity to present evidence on his [or her] behalf and to rebut the evidence presented by the employer” … . Petitioner argues, among other things, that she was deprived of that opportunity when SDHR refused to consider her response to the notes of a one-party conference at which various individuals associated with [the employer] gave their accounts of her tenure with the firm.
We agree. … [T]he determination must be annulled and the matter remitted so that SDHR may conduct an investigation that is “neither abbreviated nor one-sided” and affords petitioner “a full and fair opportunity to . . . rebut the submissions of [the employer] in opposition to her complaint” … . Matter of Hong Wang v New York State Div. of Human Rights, 2019 NY Slip Op 08463, Third Dept 11-21-19